Former Union Minister Srikant Jena Opposes Division Of ECoR, Urges Odisha CM To Move Centre

Bhubaneswar: Protesting the division of the East Coast Railway (ECoR) zone, former Union minister Srikant Jena on Wednesday urged Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to take up the matter with the Prime Minister and the Railway Minister to safeguard the larger interest of Odisha.

In a letter to the chief minister, Jena said the Centre and Railway ministry had announced the creation of a special railway zone namely Southern Coast Railway for Andhra Pradesh in 2019 by segregating the Waltair Division from the ECoR jurisdiction.

The decision was taken despite vehement protest by the Railway Board in its internal report. With this decision, the ECoR zone is going to sustain a huge loss in its annual turnover of Rs 5000 crore-10,000 crore.

He said the ECoR zone was set up in Bhubaneswar during the tenure of the then United Front government at the Centre in 1996 and inaugurated by the then Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda and Railway Minister late Ram Vilas Paswan in the presence of former Odisha chief ministers JB Patnaik and Biju Patnaik. Since then, this railway zone has been the leading profit-making zone in the country with an annual profit of more than Rs 25,000 crore.

Stating that he along with several youth Congress leaders have been jailed several times for demanding the creation of ECoR zone, Jena said the jurisdiction of this profit-making zone should not be squeezed.

The former Union minister further said if the Centre has taken this decision due to its in-principle stand for state-centric railway zones, it should bring Chakradharpur and Kharagpur divisions of the South Eastern Railway (SER) under the ECoR jurisdiction so that a new railway zone can be set up covering Rayagada, Rourkela and Balasore.

He urged the Chief Minister to place a demand for the construction of Gunupur-Therubali railway route with immediate effect for inclusive development of Odisha and especially Rayagada.

Jena also requested the Chief Minister to exert pressure on the new Railway Minister Ashwini who has become the Rajya Sabha with his support to safeguard the interest of Odisha.

“I request you to take up the matter with the Railway minister and protest the decision of the Centre by convening an all-party meeting and a special session of the State Assembly to pass a unanimous resolution. If necessary, you should lead a delegation and meet the Prime Minister and the Railway Minister and apprise them of the legitimate demands of Odisha,” Jena pointed out.

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