Wagon factory unlikely at Sitapalli

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Bhubaneswar: The proposed wagon manufacturing unit at Sitapalli in Ganjam district is unlikely to happen any time soon, minister of state for railways Manoj Sinha hinted here on Saturday.

“Manufacturing of wagons in the country is very high compared to the demand. The government’s priority is to reduce congestion on various railway routes of the state,” Sinha responded to a media query on the project. He, however, avoided a direct response and highlighted how the railway allocation to Odisha had increased after the Narendra Modi government took over in 2014.

Sinha was in Bhubaneswar to attend a Tiranga Yatra programme of the BJP.

Sitapalli project was one of the five wagon-making workshops announced in the 2010 railway budget. The Centre had allocated a token amount of Rs 1,000 in the last budget.

Sinha’s response on Sitapalli evoked sharp political reactions. Odisha has been historically neglected by the railways. “The minister’s response shows that the Centre is not serious about pursuing the Sitapalli project,” said BJD MLA and spokesperson Amar Prasad Satpathy.

To an application under the RTI Act, the Railway Board on August 3 said the railways are unable to commence the project on account of reduced requirement vis-a-vis available wagon manufacturing capacity in both private and public sectors. Hemanta Panda, a Balangir-based RTI activist, had sought the information.

It is the second project whose fate has become uncertain, after the Railway Board decided to abort its plan to establish a wagon repair workshop in Kalahandi district citing operational constraints in functioning of the workshop in March.