BJD criticises centre for lower allocation of Rail funds, BJP trashes allegation

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Bhubaneswar, Feb 6 (PTI) Odishas ruling BJD has criticised the centre for meagre allocation of Railway funds to the state in the budget 2021-22, a charge dismissed by the BJP whose leaders asserted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has all along given priority to the state and provided sufficient money.

The BJD has expressed its dissatisfaction over allocation of Rs 6,995 crore for the rail network expansion in the state in the budgetary allocation spelled by Union Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman in Parliament.

Odishas Commerce and Transport minister Padmanabha Behera dubbed the railway allocation for 2021-22 fiscal as 'disappointing'.

The party's spokesperson Lenin Mohanty came out with a more sharp comment saying, 'During the colonial era, the Britishers used railway lines for looting minerals from Odisha and it is a matter of regret that the same is being practiced by the central government of today even after 75 years of Independence.' BJP state general secretary and spokesman Golak Mohapatra dismissed the BJD's charge Saturday and held the state government responsible for dealy in completion of railway projects in the state.

'If railway projects in Odisha are getting delayed, it is because of the state governments inefficiency in handling issues like land acquisition, law and order and forest clearance and not due to the funds constraint,' Mohapatra said.

Rejecting BJD spokesman Mohantys claim that Odisha got an allocation of only Rs 14,000 crore in the last seven years of NDA rule, Mohapatra said, 'The state has received Rs 36,000 crore and not Rs 14,000 cr.' Mohapatra alleged that the BJD was misleading people by giving false information.

BJPs another spokesperson Lekhashree Samantrasinghar also came down heavily on the BJD for the regional party drawing a parallel between the British Raj and the saffron party government.

Claiming that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has all along given priority to Odisha and allocated sufficient funds, Samantasinghar asked the state government to share details on how much funds it has received from the centre and how much has it spent on various projects.

'Instead of thanking Modi government for record allocation to Odisha in the railway sector, the Odisha government is comparing the Prime Ministers leadership with the British rule. This kind of attitude by the BJD government is absolutely condemnable,' Samantsinghar said.

The BJD in a statement on Friday said that only six new railway lines have been sanctioned for Odisha since Independence Cuttack-Paradeep (83km), Talcher-Sambalpur (174km), Khordha-Rayagada-164km, Daitari-Banspani(155km), Lanjigarh-Junagarh(56km) and Khordha-Bolangir (of which only 30% has been completed so far).

The regional party also said that though the country has been Independent for 75 years, at least six Odisha districts have not yet been connected with the railway line. They are: Kandhamal, Boudh, Mayurbhanj, Kendrapada, Deogarh, and Malkangiri.

In the last seven years, only one district of Odisha has got railway connectivity and if this rate of progress continues, then another 42 years would be needed to provide rail link to the remaining six districts, the BJD said.

'Though the railway earns Rs 20,000 crore per annum from Odisha, the state in the last 7 years got a total allocation of Rs 14,000 cr. Isnt this step-motherly attitude towards Odisha?, the BJD asked.

On the railway density in the state, the BJD pointed out that Odisha has only 15 km per 1,000 km rail network while it is 42 km in West Bengal and 35 km in Bihar. PTI AAM SNS SNS