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New railway zone with Vizag as HQ a distant dream

A view of Visakhapatnam railway station
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A view of Visakhapatnam railway station

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At a time when the Indian Railways is on the verge of privatisation, South Coast Railway (SCoR) Zone with Visakhapatnam as its headquarters still remains a distant dream.

Visakhapatnam: At a time when the Indian Railways is on the verge of privatisation, South Coast Railway (SCoR) Zone with Visakhapatnam as its headquarters still remains a distant dream.

Even the Budget–2021 turned out to be a big disappointment as no allocation was made towards the new railway zone.

The Centre announced at least Rs 3 crore in the last budget for setting up of the new railway zone. On the contrary, no such announcement was made by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman during her Budget presentation this year.

On February 27, 2019, the Minister of Railways officially announced that steps would be taken to set up SCoR zone with Visakhapatnam as its headquarters. An Officer on Special Duty was later appointed by the government to prepare a detailed project report (DPR) on the establishment of the zone.

Subsequently, the DPR was submitted to the government in August 2019. However, the proposal has been gathering dust since then. Meanwhile, funds released in the last Budget were also utilised for the development of Rayagada division.

Experts say that the non-allocation of funds for the new zone would further delay the process, notwithstanding the high expectations over the Budget-2021. "The best thing is to forget about the SCoR as it is certainly not going to take off in near future. The establishment of SCoR with headquarters as Visakhapatnam is 'only' confined to papers. Apparently, the Union government has no interest in fresh recruitments or developing infrastructure for passengers. Its sole focus is on freight earnings," laments Ch Narasinga Rao, CPI (M) State secretariat member.

As per the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, the Ministry of Railways announced to set up a new railway zone in AP. Though political pressure paved way for such an announcement then, the proposal did not move any further. Expressing his views, Visakhapatnam MP MVV Satyanarayana opines, "The Union government has done injustice to the region as there is no allocation for establishing the new railway zone. It's unfortunate that the Centre had always taken a biased stance on the zone, depriving AP of getting its due share even in the Budget-2021." The MP added that YSRCP MPs would fight over the issue in Parliament. Unless there is a political pressure, Visakhapatnam people feel that the SCoR will not become a reality.

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