Focus Ganjam: Wagon Factory Yet To Take Off After 10 Years, Politicians Play Blame Game

Berhampur: Almost a decade has passed since the Railway Ministry announced that a wagon factory will be constructed at Sitalapalli in Odisha’s Ganjam district. But the project has not kicked off yet.

The project was ‘live’ till last year, but has since gone into cold storage. No wonder the people of Ganjam are irked.

Ask politicians, and all that they indulge in is passing the buck.

It was then-Union Railway minister Mamata Banerjee who announced the project in 2011-12. The ministry had sought around 100 acres of land from the state government for the proposed project, which was supposed to be implemented in public-private-partnership (PPP) mode.

The state did identify 101 acres of land at Sitalapalli, located near Jagannathpur Railway station, 20 km from Berhampur. But even the groundwork has not commenced till date.

The Railway Ministry kept the project alive by allocating meagre amounts in every Union budget till last year.

It was a strategic location for the proposed wagon factory as Tata Steel was setting up an industrial park near the site and the all-weather Gopalpur Port was being developed close by.

BJD Ganjam president Dr Ramesh Chandra Chau Patnaik demanded immediate establishment of the Railway Wagon Factory at Sitalapalli.

“The Centre was not sincere about the project from the beginning. We identified around 101 acres of land. But the Railway Ministry allocated a meagre Rs 1,000 for the proposed unit. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik repeatedly requested the Railway Ministry to implement the project, but in vain. The wagon factory at Sitalapalli could have boosted industrialization and provided more employment in Ganjam,” said Dr Ramesh Chandra.

Dr Ramesh Chandra quoted BJP leader Samir Mohanty as saying that Railway ministry had dropped the project for the time being due to lack of demand. The Sitalapalli project will be given priority if the demand for wagons increases in future, Mohanty had remarked.

BJP’s Ganjam unit president Bibhuti Bhusan Jena put the blame squarely on state government.

He said the Union government had kept the project alive for the previous two financial years by allocating token amounts of Rs 1000. “But the state government has no sincerity… It failed to provide and allot the required land and other infrastructural facilities for wagon factory at Sitalapalli,” Jena claimed.

Senior Congress leader and Ganjam unit president of INTUC Pitabas Panda said the derailment of Sitalpalli wagon factory reflects the negligent attitude of both state and Union governments towards south Odisha.

“There is no strong lobby or demand from the state government. The project must be implemented in Ganjam,” Panda stressed.

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