Odisha's ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) on Thursday strongly criticised the Centre's decision to bifurcate the Bhubaneswar-headquartered East Coast Railway to create a new zone with its headquarters at Andhra Pradesh's Visakhapatnam.
Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal on Wednesday announced that the Indian Railways will create a new zone named 'South Coast Railway' (SCoR) with headquarter in Vishakapatanam, Andhra Pradesh.
"With the creation of South Coast Railway with headquarter at Vishakapatnam and transferring major assets and part of the Waltair Railway Division (Vishakapatnam) to this new Railway Zone is yet another attempt by the Centre to destroy the railways in Odisha," BJD statement said.
The BJD said that the Centre's proposal of splitting and transferring a major part of the Waltair Railway Division (Vishakapatnam) to this new Railway Zone has "sounded a death bell to the railways in Odisha under East Coast Railway".
"If the BJP is acceding to a political decision in case of Andhra Pradesh, why is it neglecting the rightful demand of Odisha for having the state as one Zone of ECoR under its jurisdiction," the BJD said in a press note.
Intensifying its attack on the Centre and the state BJP, the statement by the BJD said: "Union Ministers Dharmendra Pradhan, Jual Oram and the state BJP continues to cry crocodile tears for Odisha but just as it had promised special category for Odisha in 2014 and not provided it, or kept silent on Mahanadi and Polavaram issues, or spent IOCL and other PSU CSR funds for its political motives by Pradhan,
the latest example of cutting off the Waltair division from ECoR is yet another attempt at destroying Odisha and its railway network."
BJD said that large parts of North and West Odisha which provide for major mineral traffic of coal and iron-ore to Railways continues to be under the jurisdiction of Bilaspur (SECR), Chakradharpur (SER) divisions and thereby "denying the right of people of Odisha to be served from within the State itself".
"The people of Odisha will never forgive Dharmendra Pradhan and the BJP led Centre for this betrayal and conspiracy to satisfy the people of Andhra Pradesh for electoral gains and to destroy the railways of Odisha as people of Odisha don't vote for them," the statement further read.
BJD said that the Diesel shed in Vizag is the biggest diesel loco shed in the country. In Odisha, there is no such diesel engine shed. For electric engines also the loco shed at Vizag is the biggest in ECoR and similar is the story for Wagon maintenance facilities.
"But now with these facilities taken away from ECoR, the railways in Odisha will be in a very precarious position as far as supply of engines and wagons are concerned," the statement added.
Naveen Patnaik-led BJD further said after trifurcation of SER, Odisha suffered a lot. "It is unfortunate that despite the government of Odisha and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik's continuous request to invest in Odisha, Railways chose to put almost all its maintenance infrastructure and investments in Visakhapatnam.
And now without those facilities, ECoR will be highly dependent on other railways and will not be able to serve the need of people and industries of Odisha," the statement said.
The statement said "With such a retrograde step, instead of being able to generate more resources, Odisha will have to be at the mercy of other Zones and outside divisions for support in engines and wagon maintenance and continue to suffer at the hands of other railways in other states.
This will devastate the capacity of Odisha railways to perform to its capacity and grow up to its full potential.