Centre Grants Forest Clearance For 68 Km Of Khurda-Balangir Rly Line In Odisha

Bhubaneswar: In a good news for Odisha, the much-awaited Khurda-Balangir railway line has taken another step forward with the Forest Ministry giving clearance for the remaining section of the project.

Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, in a tweet on Sunday, said the Ministry of Forest and Environment has given its permission for the remaining 68 km of the Khurda Road-Balangir new railway line. The tenders for starting the work on this section of the train track are being issued and those would be finalised soon, he added.

Vaishnaw expressed his thanks to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Minister for Environment, Forest & Climate Change Bhupender Yadav for according the permission for the long delayed railway project in Odisha.

It may be noted that of total 301-km railway line, the work on 115 km has been completed. According to the Railway Ministry, the estimated cost of the project has been pegged at Rs 3791.66 crore. The highest Rs 1,000 crore was sanctioned for the project in the 2021-22 rail budget.

When completed, the project will connect Balangir, Sonepur, Phulbani, Boudh, Nayagarh and Khurda districts and build up another rail link between western and coastal Odisha.

Sanctioned in 1995-95, the Khurda Road-Balangir rail line project was delayed for many issues like court cases, Forest clearance and land acquisition. Forest clearance and working permission were pending for 1469 acre of forest land between Dasapalla and Purunakatak.

Since 2014-15, the project has been speeded up. Till now, 115 km of rail line including 90 km from Khurda Road to Nuagaon and 25 km from Balangir to Jharatarabha has been commissioned. Nuagaon-Daspalla from Khurda Road end and Jharatarabha-Khambeswarpali from Balangir end are targeted to be commissioned this financial year.

The 15.5-km stretch between Nuagaon and Dasapalla has been targeted to be completed by March 2023. This section has 57 minor and 3 major bridges along with 15 Road Under Bridges (RUBs) and 4 Road Over Bridges (ROBs).

Similarly, 21.7-km Jhartarbha-Khambeswarpalli-Sonepur stretch is targeted to be completed by March 2023. Work is in progress except between Buguda and Purunakatak. Overall target for the project is December 2025 subject to availability of 97.59 acre of private land, 262.75 acre of government land and Stage-I forest clearance for the rest stretch.

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