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Bimlagarh-Talcher railway line project hits land hurdle

The East Coast Railway (ECoR) has further extended the Bimlagarh-Talcher Broad Gauge rail line project’s completion target to March 2025, citing inordinate delay in availability of land. 
This has dealt a blow to the key railway infrastructure project as Odisha Government has failed to acquire the required land causing inordinate delay and massive cost overrun.

Elected council member of NIT-R Alumni Association Bimal Bisi had written to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) last month following which ECoR’s deputy chief engineer (construction and planning) on September 1 informed about the revised target of March 2025 detailing the project status. Eight months back, the target was revised to March 2023 from December 2022. 

According to the ECoR, only 298 acre of the total 921 acre of private land could be acquired till July 14. No land could be acquired in Sundargarh and Deogarh districts. Surprisingly, of the total 422 acre of Government land, only 162 acre could be acquired. While only seven acre has been alienated in Sundargarh, no land could be acquired in Deogarh. However, the ECoR has got final stage-II approval for the entire 664 acre of forest land from the Ministry of Environment and Forest on June 4. 

Earlier, the ECoR had planned to start the project work from Bimlagarh side in Sundargarh and complete it by June, 2022. The five-decade-old demand for the rail line was sanctioned in 2003-04. The project estimate of `810.70 crore was approved in 2007-08 and it was further revised to `1,928.07 crore in November, 2016 for a total length of 149.78 km rail line through Angul, Deogarh and Sundargarh districts.  

As of now, only 17.62 km from Talcher to Sunakhani has been completed while the next stretch of 16.3 km is targeted to be finished by March, 2022. 

Senior leader of the action committee for Bimlagarh-Talcher rail link Bishnu Mohanty said the panel is chalking out strategies to mobilise support and build pressure on the Government for early completion of the project. 

On July 8, Sundargarh MP Jual Oram had met Odisha Revenue Minister Sudam Marandi to expedite the land issue of the project which is frequently reviewed by the Prime Minister’s Office under the pro-active governance and timely implementation (PRAGATI) initiative.