Railway Board Chairman Remarks On New Vizag Rly Zone Irk Leaders

The question asked of the MPs by Mittal, chairman of Indian Railways as to why do they need for a separate zone while every aspect pertaining to the needs of Visakhapatnam is being attended to has irked the leaders.

Srinivas N

Visakhapatnam: Are the comments said to have been made by the Chairman of the Indian Railways any indication that there would be no new railway zone in the State, leave alone having its headquarters in Visakhapatnam?

The Chairman AK Mittal is learnt to have asked the MPs, who met him to seek headquarters in Visakhapatnam for the assuredrailway zone, why they need a new zone when everything necessary for the State is being done by the railways. The Chairman was here in the city on a three-day visit.

Mittal’s reaction drew flak from several quarters since his comments seemed to question the validity of the AP Reorganisation Act- 2014. The Act in Item 8 of Schedule XIII (Infrastructure) provided for the formation of the new railway zone in the newly carved State. The secretariat member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Ch. Narasinga Rao while condemning the reported comments of the Chairman, said he should not have made such remarks since the zone was assured in the Act after a prolonged battle.Any comments against the zone formation amounted to questioning the legitimacy of the Act, he felt. Communist Party of India State assistant secretary JVSN Murthy said that MPs who met the Chairman should have protested against his comments then itself.

The people of Uttarandhra have been persistently demanding a new railway zone with headquarters in Visakhapatnam. “Hosting public and private ports, steel industry, oil refinery and other export units, the city has rapidly become an economic centre in the State. Further, the thriving film and tourist industries made the city more distinct,” said CS Rao, a social activist.  Besides, he explains the Waltair railway zone earns annual revenue of roughly about Rs.7, 000 crore and provide employment to six thousand people.

At present, the Waltair division is a constituent of East Coast Railway zone headquartered in Bhubaneswar, Odisha. The K-K line (Kothavalasa-Kirandul), part of Waltair division, provides a revenue of about Rs.4, 000 crore to the East Coast Railways. The 443km track is used for transporting iron ore from Bailadilla mines in Chhattisgarh to Visakhapatnam Port.

Sources say that this line has become the bone of contention in forming new railway zone between Andhra and Odisha.  The East Coast Railway, predominantly covering Odisha and Chhattisgarh besides three North Coastal districts, does not want to leave this line given the high revenue. Further, staff associations are opposed to the new zone formation since it involves a lot many service issues.

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