ROURKELA: Against the backdrop of knee-jerk reactions from various quarters, the Indian Railways seems to have woken up from its slumber.
Sources said decks have been cleared to lay the proposed Bimlagarh-Talcher rail link with Indian Railways depositing Rs 30 crore with the State Government for the first phase land acquisition work. Funds of Rs 810 crore would be required for laying the 156- km stretch of fresh track between Bimlagarh and Talcher.
Demand for this rail link has been in the public domain for the last four decades. The Union Railway Ministry was ignoring it before the final sanction was accorded in 2004-05.
Since then, every railway budget doled out a meagre ` 5 to ` 10 crore for the project even as six years elapsed without any visible outcome. After completion, the new rail link would be the shortest route between Rourkela and Bhubaneswar covering 300 km. The existing route via Sambalpur is around 460 km.
The South Eastern Railway (SER) has a single track between Rourkela and Bimlagarh in Sundargarh district and works are underway to double-track it. Sources said the East Coast Railway (ECoR) would lay around 140 km of track and the rest would be carried out by the SER. Till Talcher, the proposed track would cover the districts of Sundargarh, Deogarh, Dhenkanal and Angul.
At a high-level meeting on Friday in the presence of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, the General Managers (GMs) of the SER and ECoR informed that ` 30 crore had been deposited with the State Government for acquisition of land in the first phase.
Accordingly, land would be acquired for 25- km stretch from Talcher.
In the past, the Indian Railways faced criticism from the Rourkela Development Steering Committee (RDSC), a consortium of Opposition political parties and a host of apolitical organisations, over major demands including the proposed new track.