Sunday, May 4, 2008

Desperate need for improved rail and road connectivity to the Tribal areas of Orissa: Prof Baral's letter to Mr Rahul Gandhi

Draft Letter (PDF file)

Subject: Desperate need for improved rail and road connectivity to the Tribal areas of Orissa: declaring unfinished lines to KBK and other tribal districts as National projects and completing them during the 11th plan

Dear Esteemed Rahulji:
Welcome back to Orissa! Your last visit to Orissa left deep impressions on the people of Orissa, in particular on the tribals of the backward KBK districts of Orissa.
Sir: I would like to convey a request from a lot of people from that area as well as from the concerned intelligentsia of Orissa.
We all are of the opinion that one of the most important factor in bringing KBK back from its bottom of the barrel status in all developmental measures is to improve its connectivity, both via road and rail.
Sir: KBK is a forgotten non-traditional frontier of India and it shares many of the characteristics of the traditional frontier of India in Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeastern states. Like J & K and the northeastern states, it is hard to access, covered with forests, and is infested with terror groups. Like the north eastern states it has large percentage of tribal population . In addition, KBK is the most backward area of not just Orissa but India with extremely low literacy rates , low scores in health parameters, and very high poverty rates .
Sir: Special programs both in terms of road and rail connectivity are in place for J & K and the northeastern states. In particular, several Railway lines under construction in J & K and the northeastern states are labeled as National projects and get funding from the central government for their completion. As a result they will be completed in a time bound manner within a few years.
Sir: The people of KBK and other tribal areas of Orissa would be ever grateful to you if you were to convey to and convince the central government to declare some of the proposed railway lines to these areas as national projects with a dedicated budget to complete them during the 11th plan. Parts of these lines have been approved for more than a decade and at the rate they are progressing they may never finish (annual budget allocation often less than the inflation) or if they do perhaps not in our life time. The lines connecting KBK are:
(i) Khurda Rd-Balangir
(ii) Lanjigarh Rd – Bhawanipatna - Junagarh – Nabrangpur – Jeypore – Malkangiri – Bhadrachalam Rd (Andhra Pradesh) – Will lead to an alternative Hyderabad-Ranchi route.
(iii) Gunupur – Therubali
The key missing line connecting the state capital to the Sundergarh district is: (iv) Talcher – Bimlagarh
The key missing line that will properly connect the Mayurbhanj district is: (v) Bangiriposi -Gurumahishasini and/or Buramara-Chakulia.

In regards to roads to these areas, the central government is considering the Ranchi-Vijaywada highway that passes through the KBK districts and has called for an RFP for consultancy services of this project. ( Your help in speeding up this process would be most appreciated by the people of Orissa, and again, especially the people of KBK.

Prof Chitta Baral
Arizona State University

No comments: