NRI seeks rail infrastructure in Orissa’s backward region


Bhubaneswar : An Oriya NRI based in Lebanon has urged the government to develop railway infrastructure in Orissa’s most backward districts to ensure the economic prosperity of the region.

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The Kalahandi-Balangir-Koraput (KBK) region, known for its economic backwardness, has been neglected by the central government for years, Digambara Patra, an Oriya academic based in Beirut, told IANS in an email.

Patra said he had Friday written letters to President Pratibha Patil, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik stressing the need for developing a railway network in the region.

“Railway infrastructure development is one of the keys to success and can bring economic prosperity to such a backward region,” Patra, who works as an assistant professor at the department of chemistry in the American University in Beirut, wrote in the email.

“Unfortunately, in railway development, the Kalahandi-Balangir-Koraput region is being neglected…In the last couple of years, Indian Railways has committed Rs.50,000 crore (Rs.500 billion) investment only in Bihar for various ongoing and new projects, but it has neglected Orissa, especially the KBK areas,” Patra said.

He pointed out that the central government had in the past has established a Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) project in Sunabeda, Koraput and an ordinance factory in Balangir and both had increased the employment potential in the regions. But the neighbouring Kalahandi region has not been considered for any major industrial project, Patra said.

He added that “setting up a new East Coast railway division in the region would help speed up railway projects in the impoverished western and southern Orissa, which are poorly connected by railways”.