Minister of state for railways Manoj Sinha on Wednesday put an end to the controversy related to cost sharing of Jeypore-Malkangiri new line project. He clarified that his ministry will adhere to the provisions of memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed with Odisha government for execution of the project.
Recently, the state government had alleged that the East Coast Railway (ECoR), implementing agency of the project, wants the state to bear 100 per cent of land cost. But it was not mentioned in the MoU signed in October last year.
According to the MoU, the state government will bear 25 per cent cost of project and land as well. The rest will be borne by the Centre. But a letter from the ECoR to bear 100 per cent of the land cost created controversy later.
Sinha, while inaugurating some railway projects through videoconferencing at ECoR headquarters here, said his ministry never breaks promises. “Some people have started spreading rumors that Railways has changed its stand regarding cost sharing criteria of the project. But it is not true,” he added.
He said they had signed the MoU with the state government to give a rail link to the tribal dominated Malkangiri district. “Cost of the land is increasing day by day. Starting the project work by purchasing land has become a difficult thing, but we will do that. We always stick to our commitments,” he added. Jeypore-Malkangiri new rail line project was sanctioned in the Railway Budget 2016-17. The 130km long new line will put the tribal dominated district on railway map. The initial cost of the project was estimated at Rs 1277 crore. But it has now escalated to Rs 2344 crore. The cost of land would be only Rs 242 crore. So far, the Centre has sanctioned Rs 79 crore for the project, official sources said.
Delay over beginning of work of this project had created war of words among leaders of the political parties in the state. The BJD had urged the Centre to stick to the commitments agreed in the MoU. Similarly, the Congress had threatened the Centre to take the issue to the streets if it delays construction of the project.
Odisha chief secretary A P Padhi had taken up the issue with Railway Board chairman on July 14 and Union cabinet secretary P K Sinha through a videoconferencing earlier this month.
Later ECoR authorities said, “It was only a request to the state government to provide land free of cost as there was a quantum of jump in the cost of the project.”