Berhampur: Even though 10 years have passed since the survey of the Rayagada-Gopalpur rail link was completed, the railway project is nowhere in sight. It clearly shows the utter negligence of the Centre towards development of Ganjam district.
Sources said, the railways had started the survey work on the feasibility of the 258-km railway link between Gopalpur-on-sea and the industrial town of Rayagada February 28, 2009. The Centre has sanctioned Rs 4 crore for the survey and it is being carried out by a Chennai-based company.
Then Congress MP Chandar Sekhar Sahoo had urged then Union Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav to lay a railway line connecting the industrial belt of Rayagada with the port town of Gopalpur. As a result he included the railway project in 2004 rail budget. The survey work was initiated at Gopalpur Sea area.
Sahu urged the survey team to expedite the work and complete it by June 2009 i.e. before the election so that the budgetary allocation could be made in the next railway budget for construction of railway lines.
The railway project could not be carried forward after Sahoo faced defeat in 2009 election. And the survey report was pushed under the red files of railway department.
In 2019, Sahoo was reelected as an MP on a BJD ticket. He has since been putting urging the Centre to sanction budget for the construction of the Gopalpur-Rayagada railway project.
However the Centre has not showed any interest towards the railway project as there was no discussion for the same in 2019-20 and 2020-21 budgetary sessions.
At Ganjam district BJD executive meeting in June 22, 2018, a proposal was passed on the development of the railway project. Even though one and half years have passed the BJD has not put any pressure on the Center for the same.
The proposed railway line will pass through Gopalpur-on-sea (on the side of Aryapali port ), the famous beach resort town, Gopalpur port, Berhampur, Digapahandi, Taptapani in Ganjam district, Mohana and Adava in Gajapati district as well as Gumuda, Theruballi and Rayagada in Rayagada district.
The railway line project assumes significance as it will cater to many alumina refineries concentrated in Rayagada district which is rich in bauxite deposits and also the seasonal port of Gopalpur which is being developed into an all-weather port by a special purpose vehicle called Gopalpur Port Limited (GPL).
The alumina refinery of National Aluminium Company is located at Damanjodi in Koraput district while its smelter plat is at Angul. In the absence of a direct railway link between Damonjodi and Angul, the alumina has to be transferred from Koraput to Angul via Vizianagram and the aluminium from Angul is transported to Visakhapatanam port for exports.
Once the proposed Gopalpur-Rayagada railway line comes up, there would be a lot of savings on transportation of alumina and aluminum.
The proposed line is not merely a link between the port city of Gopalpur and the industrial town of Rayagada, it will be a gateway for the development of the mineral rich, but under developed areas of Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
The tourist inflow to Gopalpur from other parts of the country as well as from abroad would also be increased through the rail route. In 2012, the cost of the project was estimated at Rs 1392 crore.
Despite repeated demand over years, the railways department has ignored the development of railways in Ganjam, stoking resentment among residents.