It was in 2019, just before the general elections, an announcement was made by the BJP-led NDA government at Centre on establishment of a new rail zone (South Coastal Railway) with its headquarters in Visakhapatnam bringing cheer to Vizagites. Though it has been over four and half years since it was sanctioned, the project makes no much headway and work on it moves like a snail.
With the 2024 elections fast approaching, the issue gets focus and the opposition parties, particularly the BJP, has started targeting the YSRCP government in the State squarely blaming it for delay of the project. Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, while replying to a question raised by TDP MP K. Rammohan Naidu in the Lok Sabha on Thursday said: “The AP government took the railway land for the BRTS promising allotment of 52.2 acres at Mudasarlova to the railways in return. But, it is dragging its feet on the allotment causing delay in construction of the zone headquarters. A sum of Rs. 106 crore has already been allocated for the purpose.”
Echoing similar view, Rajya Sabha member GVL Narasimha Rao, while raising the issue in the Upper House on Monday, took a dig at the AP government blaming it for the delay. He urged the Central government to ensure speedy completion of the project to the zone operational. The central government, it may be recalled, appointed Officer on Special Duty (OSD) the same year when it sanctioned the new zone assigning him the task of making the preparatory ground.
After studying various aspects, a detailed project report (DPR) was prepared for construction of the headquarters and it was approved in August 2022. The officials concerned had identified two sites for the zone building complex — one at Wireless Colony, located between the DRM’s office and railway station, and the other at Mudasarlova. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was supposed to lay the stone during his visit to Vizag last year, but it did not materialise for the reasons better known to the officials.
Finally, the government zeroed in on the site near Mudasarlova and is awaiting handing over of the land to the railways by the State government. New rail zone with its headquarters in Visakhapatnam was the long-cherished dream of the people of North Andhra and they were excited when the announcement was made in 2019. However, the abnormal delay in making it operational makes them doubtful over seriousness of the government.
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This article is written by Senior Journalist Lakkoju Nagesh Babu.