Friday, 31 December, 2010

Steel City lacks connectivity to the National Capital

Connectivity to the national capital i.e. New Delhi is an important aspect for every nook and corner of the country. May it be politics, business, job, education, administration or any other issue, the first preference of each citizen of India is the national capital. Hence with the railway budgets, every person aspires for a train to Delhi from his city, town, village or district, may it be any new train or an extension or just a link.
Unfortunately that does not happen, thanks to the poor political and administrative system of the country. The burning example of this neglect is the steel city of Rourkela, which has the potential to be one of the most advanced regions of the country, however is lagging behind due to neglect, step-motherly attitude and poor leadership on various fronts.

Rourkela is the third largest city of the state both area wise and population wise housing more than 7 lakhs of population, while Greater Rourkela is home to about 9 lakhs people. About 12 lakhs people of East Sundargarh, some parts of Keonjhar district and some parts of Jharkhand state are directly or indirectly dependable on Rourkela Junction, the largest railway station of the region. This station has 14000 footfalls daily which amounts to 51.1 lakhs passengers annually, thus catering to a huge population but unfortunately is neglected in terms of connectivity to other parts of the country, especially the national capital.
The only connectivity to Delhi, Puri-Haridwar Kalinga Utkal Express bears the brunt of any natural calamity or any insurgent activity and is often diverted on Angul-Sambalpur-Jharsuguda route causing a lot of inconvenience to the commuters of Rourkela and surrounding areas.

Puri-Nizamuddin Utkal Express was started during 1960’s in order to connect the holy city of Puri, capital city of Bhubaneswar, Steel city of Rourkela with the national capital of Delhi. This train proved a boon for the people of Rourkela, who were linked with Delhi on one side and Bhubaneswar-Puri on the other side. Also this train benefitted the people of Jajpur, Bhadrak and Balasore who were linked with Rourkela. In due course of time other trains from Puri-Bhubaneswar to New Delhi were introduced e.g. Neelachal, Purusottam, Rajdhani etc. ,but these trains used the shorter route via Mughalsarai-Kanpur instead of taking a long route via Bilaspur-Katni.

During 1990’s another train meant for exclusive connection between Western Odisha and the national capital was launched. This train was scheduled to ply between Sambalpur and Nizamuddin and was named as Hirakud Express after the famous landmark of Sambalpur i.e. Hirakud Dam. A link train to from Jharsuguda, i.e. Rourkela-Jharsuguda-Nizamuddin Link Express connected the steel city with the national capital. So any how Rourkelites enjoyed dual connectivity to Delhi.
Unfortunately that did not last long and this link service from Jharsuguda to Rourkela was withdrawn. Mean while with the opening of Talcher-Sambalpur route this train was extended to Bhubaneswar and finally to Visakhapatnam still retaining the name of Hirakud Express.
Meanwhile the number of trains connecting Bhubaneswar to Delhi has increased to 9, (including one Duronto Express) while the same old train Utkal Express is the only hope to Delhi from Rourkela. It should be noted that luxury trains like Bhubaneswar-New Delhi Rajdhani Express have almost zero passengers between Bhubaneswar and Tatanagar and a majority of seats lie vacant between these stations. Similarly Puri-New Delhi Neelachal Express (triweekly) has a large number of passengers from Rourkela itself, who travel either to Tatanagar or Bhubaneswar/Puri to board this train.

This train i.e. Neelachal Express being a triweekly train, is being demanded to ply via Angul, Sambalpur, Rourkela,Jharsuguda,Tatanagar on the remaining 3 days. Similarly Bhubaneswar-New Delhi Rajdhani Express which runs 4 days via Tatanagar has almost no passengers between Cuttack and Tatanagar, hence this train can also be diverted on the same route via Angul,Sambalpur,Rourkela which will fetch a number of passengers.
Turning to the other side of the coin, Rourkela seems to be the only steel city in India, which is poorly connected to the national capital. In comparison to other steel cities of India, Rourkela has only one train to Delhi, while Bokaro Steel City and Tatanagar have 6 trains for Delhi. Durgapur, being located on Howrah-Delhi Mainline enjoys the service of 11 trains while another one is available from Asansol , thus totaling the count at 12.

Durg ,the most important station of Durg-Bhilainagar Urban Complex operates 5 trains to Delhi, while the Southern City of Visakhapatnam has 4 trains to the national capital. What is ridiculous that out of the 6 trains from Tatanagar to Delhi, 5 trains are from Odisha (including Rajdhani and Sampark Kranti)! Instead of catering to the needs of the people of the state, these trains are used to satisfy the neighboring Jharkhand State.
Hence for the benefit of the people of Odisha, new trains can be introduced, old trains can be diverted or extended as follows

•Rourkela-Amritsar Brahmani Mail (Biweekly) via Jharsuguda, Bilaspur ,Katni, Gwalior, H.Nizamuddin, Ambala Cantt.

•Extension of 12877/12878 New Delhi-Ranchi Garib Rath Express to Rourkela

•Diversion of 12875/12876 Puri-New Delhi Garib Rath Express via Angul, Sambalpur, Rourkela,Tatanagar (3 days a week)

•Diversion of 12443/12444 Bhubaneswar-New Delhi Rajdhani Express via Naraj, Angul, Sambalpur City, Jharsuguda, Rourkela, Tatanagar (2 days a week)

By implementing the above proposals we can surely improve our connectivity to Delhi to a large extent.

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