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Growing demand to bring heritage locomotive back to Paralakhemundi
After the arrival of iconic Dakota, used by legendary Biju Patnaik, at the airport here to be displayed as a symbol of rich aviation history, the people of South Odisha want at least one of the heritage locomotives of the prestigious Parlakimedi Light Railway (PLR), to be brought back to Paralakhemundi to highlight the vision of the Maharajas who brought Odisha under the Railway map 123 years ago.
Berhampur: After the arrival of iconic Dakota, used by legendary Biju Patnaik, at the airport here to be displayed as a symbol of rich aviation history, the people of South Odisha want at least one of the heritage locomotives of the prestigious Parlakimedi Light Railway (PLR), to be brought back to Paralakhemundi to highlight the vision of the Maharajas who brought Odisha under the Railway map 123 years ago.
"We welcome Dakota being brought back to Odisha as an initiative to rekindle the spirit of a great leader like Biju Babu. At the same time, we must take urgent steps to bring back at least one PLR loco to Paralakhemundi to introspect the vision of the first Odisha Premier Maharaja Krushna Chandra Gajapati and his father Maharaja Goura Chandra Gajapati, who introduced the first privately managed Railway in Odisha 123 years ago," said members of Appanna Parichha Smruti Sansad.
"The century-old Paralakhemundi Railway Station is being renovated now and we must preserve our heritage to enlighten the younger generation," the members said.
Parlakimedi Light Railway was a two-foot six-inch gauge railway. It was the brainchild of the erstwhile Maharaja of Paralakhemundi which came under the British influence in 1768. The East Coast Railway brought a rail line to Naupada in 1894. The Maharaja of Parlakimedi, Goura Chandra Gajapati, decided to connect his capital Paralakhemundi with Naupada, which was only 40 km away.
With the government giving its sanction in 1898, work began in full earnest. The line was opened to traffic in 1900. This railway line was built at a cost of Rs 7 lakh at that time, said Muralidhar Parichha, organising secretary of Appanna Parichha Smruti Sansad. The standard type of locomotive on PLR was the 20-tonne 0-6-4 tank locomotive with small (27-inch diameter) coupled wheels and an axle load of only 4.75 tonnes. The Parlakimedi engines were designated the 'PL' class.
Seven of the locomotives from Parlakimedi Light Railway have been preserved at various places. PL 691 has been plinthed outside Southern Railway Headquarters in Chennai; PL 692 has been plinthed outside BNR Hotel in Puri; PL 693 has been plinthed at Vizianagaram; PL 694 with coach has been plinthed outside the Visakhapatnam station; PL 695 with coach has been plinthed at Nagpur Narrow gauge museum; PL 697 has been plinthed outside DRM office in Visakhapatnam and PL 698 has been plinthed at Bengaluru, sources said.
"We demand that the PL 697, which has been plinthed outside DRM office in Visakhapatnam, be brought to Paralakhemundi as a mark of respect to the Maharajas of Paralakhemundi, who bought the locomotives with their own money to serve the people," said Bishnu Mohan Adhikari, who made intensive research on the history and culture of Paralakhemundi.