Forest clearance accorded to Khurda Road-Balangir rail line project: Minister

Bhubaneswar: Long-awaited Forest Clearance of Khurda Road–Balangir Rail Line project was accorded today after the intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Minister of Environment & Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) Bhupender Yadav.

About 68 Kms the railway section of the ongoing rail line project between Dasapalla and Purunakatak, i.e from Kms 112 to Kms 180 has now been given forest clearance. The project will connect Balangir, Subarnapur, Phulbani, Boudh, Nayagarh and Khurda districts and will build up another rail link between Western and Coastal Odisha, a senior official stated.

Taking to his personal Twitter handle, Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw wrote, “Thanks to the PM @narendramodi Ji and @byadavbjp Ji for giving forest permission for the remaining 68 Km section on Khurda Road-Bolangir new line. All tenders are being issued and will be finalised soon.”

The project was sanctioned in FY 1994-95. It was being delayed for many issues like court cases and forest clearance etc. Since FY 2014-15, the project has been speeded up. Till now, 115 Kms stretch of rail line out of 301 Kms has already been commissioned (90 Km from Khurda Road to Nuagaon and 25 Km from Balangir to Jharatarabha).

Nuagaon-Daspalla from Khurda Road end and Jharatarabha-Khambeswarpali from Balangir end were earlier targeted for commissioning this financial year. The slow progress of the project was due to a delay in handing over of required land and forest clearance. Forest clearance and working permission were pending for 1,469 acres of forest land in between Dasapalla and Purunakatak.

The 15.5 Kms stretch of railway section between Nuagaon and Dasapalla has been targeted to be completed by March 2023. It has 57 minor and three major bridges along with 15 road under-bridges (RUBs) and four road over-bridges (ROBs).

Similarly, the Jhartarbha-Khambeswarpali-Sonepur (11.40+10.30=21.70 Kms) has been targeted to be completed by March 2023. Work is in progress except between Buguda and Purunakatak.

The overall target for the project is December 2025 subject to the availability of 97.59 acres of private land, 262.75 acres of government land and Stage-I forest clearance from Km 112-180.

The Minister of Railways is giving priority for the development of railway infrastructure of the region along with various project works going on in Odisha and also is monitoring the development works on a regular basis. The Khurda Road-Balangir rail line project is one of the focus projects of Vaishnaw, which is also a focus project of the Prime Minister.

Notably, Vaishnaw advised the officials of East Coast Railway (ECoR) to work with proper coordination with all agencies from the grassroots to short out land acquisition and other issues raised during the construction of the much-awaited public-centric project.

The minister also advised railway officials concerned that only grass-root level coordination can result in early completion of Khurda Road-Balangir rail line project.

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