Wednesday, 25 January 2012

SOSA demands better railway infrastructure and connectivity for Berhampur and South Odisha

The South Odisha Students' Association (SOSA) submitted a Memorandum to Central Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi demanding better railway infrastructure and connectivity for south Odisha and improvement of amenities at Brahmapur railway station. The Students’ body urged the Railway Minister to consider the long standing demand for a railway coaching terminal complex at Brahmapur, provision of adequate funds for the modernization of century old Brahmapur railway station with additional platforms, widening of the existing platforms, new entry points in place of the goods-shed which was shifted in 2005, adequate passenger amenities besides new long distance trains to New Delhi, Ahmadabad, Allahabad, Jamshedpur, Jaipur and Inter-city trains to Rourkela, Baripada, Sambalpur, Bolangir, Koraput etc.  The Association also demanded the early establishment of the proposed Wagon manufacturing unit at Sitalapalli near Brahmapur and sought approval for new railway lines connecting Brahmapur and Sambalpur via Phulbani and Gopalpur to Rayagada for these railway lines being both economically viable and socially desirable.  In their memorandum the SOSA members alleged that Berhampur station has till date not received proper attention of railway authorities. Members of this students' organisation urged the Railway Minister to visit Berhampur to take stock of situation and to assess the need of development. It may be noted that Berhampur is third largest city of Odisha and its railway station is more than a century old. According to reports this railway station handles second highest number of passengers in the State. 
Full text of the memorandum: 

Shri Dinesh Trivedi
Hon’ble Union Railway Minister
Rail Bhawan
New Delhi-110001

Subject: Demand for better railway infrastructure and connectivity for Brahmapur and South Odisha

Hon’ble Railway Minister Sir,
We write to seek your attention towards the pathetic state of railway infrastructure and poor passenger amenities at Brahmapur Railway station under the East Coast Railway zone in Odisha.

Sir, as you are aware, Brahmapur is the 3rd largest city in Odisha and the century old railway station here caters to the need of more than 5 million people of South Odisha. Being a major rail-head in the Howrah-Chennai rail route, this railway station also serves as the gateway for huge number of tourists coming from various parts of India and the world to the famous Gopalpur sea beach, Chilka Lake, famous hill temple of Maa Tara Tarini and the vast hinterland of South Odisha. As per reports, this Railway station handles the second highest number of passengers per day after the Bhubaneswar Railway Station in the state of Odisha. However, this railway station has been facing repeated negligence from the East Coast Railway zonal authorities and not a single demand of the people has been addressed in the last decade. There are only 3 narrow platforms in functioning condition in the station resulting in huge inconveniences for the passengers. The decades old proposal of the Railway Department to add 2 more platforms to accommodate more passengers and trains is yet to materialize.  Though the goods-shed was shifted from this railway station in 2005 to facilitate the construction of new platforms for passenger use, this project is yet to start.  While more than 70% of the existing platforms are roof-less, demand for platform-sheds and widening of these platforms have been ignored causing difficulties for the passengers. There is not even proper drinking water and lighting facility in the Railway station.  While less crowded Railway stations in the State and elsewhere are getting due attention and modern facilities, the Brahmapur Station is being denied the basic and essential facilities even after announcements to this effect made by the Railway Ministry from time to time. Sir, needless to mention that the Divisional Railway authorities in Khurda Road and East Coast Zonal authorities at Bhubaneswar are squarely responsible for the pathetic state of this century old Railway station.

Sir, your recent visits to various states and announcements in the Parliament have brought a new sense of hope among the people. We request you to pay a visit to Brahmapur Railway station in your next visit to Odisha to see the pitiable state of affairs existing here. But, before that let me bring to your notice some key issues that the people of Brahmapur city and south Odisha have been demanding for long and they have got nothing but disappointment in return.

First, long standing demand for establishment of a coaching terminal to ensure the starting, termination and extension of long distance trains from Brahmapur, the southernmost city in the state of Odisha.

Brahmapur Railway station is infamous for large-scale migrations of people of the backward south Odisha to different parts of India in search of livelihood.  Added to this the growth of Brahmapur city has resulted in Railway passengers rising exponentially and existing number of trains turning out to be inadequate. Infact, there is not even a regular train from Brahmapur to New Delhi and other major North Indian cities like Allahabad, Lucknow, Varanasi, Jaipur etc. Sighting the absence of a coaching terminal the Railway authorities for decades have denied the extension of trains to Brahmapur, now terminating either at Bhubaneswar or at Puri, which are in north Odisha, and so denying the entire south Odisha from adequate number of long-distance trains. Therefore, we request you to consider sympathetically the longstanding demand for a Railway-coaching terminal in Brahmapur especially because this is an absolute necessity for better Railway connectivity for Brahmapur and south Odisha.

Second, improving infrastructure of the railway station building, surrounding area and railway platforms etc.

The present infrastructure of Brahmapur Railway station is not even comparable with smaller stations in other states. The frequent demand for modernization of this Railway station with better amenities for passengers, expansion of the Railway station building with two additional platforms (completion of ongoing work on platform no 4, besides addition of platform nos. 5 and 6), widening of existing platform no. 1, new entrance points on both front and back side of the railway station, completion of the second foot over-bridge connecting all the 4 platforms (the construction of which started in 2005), adequate water and lighting facility in the station, etc., are all being demanded for years to the utter apathetic response from the Zonal and Divisional Railway authorities. Sir, all these need your kind attention and we request you to sanction adequate funds for the completion of the above.

Third, there has been a long-standing demand from the people for a Railway-manufacturing unit and establishment of a Railway staff training institute at Brahmapur.

Former Railway Minster Ms. Mamata Banerjee was kind enough to concede the demand for a Railway wagon factory at Brahmapur in view of the large-scale migrations from this backward region with no semblance of industry and employment opportunities. Subsequently, the State government identified a patch of land at Sitalapalli near Brahmapur city for the purpose. But, despite repeated requests and agitations, the work for the Wagon factory is yet to commence and therefore we request you to instruct the concerned Railway authorities to start the long awaited project in an expeditious manner.

Further, there is an urgent need to introduce new trains from Brahmapur city to meet the needs of the commuters of this region.
• Requests for new trains from Brahmapur to Ahmedabad, Surat, Allahabad, Jamshedpur, Rourkela; besides extension of New Delhi bound Odisha Sampark Kranti Express, Howarh-Bhubaneswar Jan shatabdi Express and Ranchi-Bhubaneswar Garib Rath Express to Brahmapur remains to be addressed.
• There is also an urgent need to raise the frequency of Amritsar-Visakhapatnam (Hirakund Express) from thrice a week to all days of the week.
• There is need for new DMU and Inter-city services between Brahmapur to other towns of the State like Koraput, Rourkela, Gunupur, Balangir, Keonjhar, Sambalpur and Baripada.
•  Similarly, demand for new train lines such as Brahmapur-Sambalpur (via Phulbani), Gopalpur-Rayagada, Gopalpur-Talcher and Gunupur-Therubali need your special attention for these can ensure backward region connectivity and also connect some of the hitherto unconnected Districts by rail.

Sir, you will agree that Brahmapur and South-Odisha deserve better attention and augmentation in resources from the Indian Railways to come out of the vicious circle of underdevelopment especially in the Railway infrastructure front. We count on your commitment for developing the perennially neglected regions of the country like South Odisha by correcting the uneven distribution of railway network and infrastructure.  We do hope that you will pay a visit to Brahmapur in your upcoming visit to Odisha to take stock of the situation and will address our concerns in the upcoming Railway Budget.

With Regards,
President, SOSA
New Delhi

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