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Suresh Prabhu launches 216 pairs of trains in #Odisha ahead of #Nabakalebar #Rath #Jatra #Jagannath

Union #Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu today launched a series of rail projects in Odisha ahead of Lord Jagannath’s Nabakalebar Rath Jatra for which 216 pairs of trains would run.

Prabhu, who announced plan for a joint venture for rapid growth of rail infrastructure in the state, said, “Spread of rail infrastructure will ensure rapid economic growth of Odisha and the country as a whole.”

Noting that rail sector in Odisha remained neglected for decades, he said railway ministry would initiate steps to enter into a special understanding with the state for forming a joint venture company.

Stating that the proposed joint venture company would go a long way for Odisha’s progress, the railway minister said profit generated from the venture would be invested in the state for development of rail infrastructure.

Referring to a similar venture between railways, Coal India Ltd and Odisha Government for transshipment of coal from Talcher belt, Prabhu said huge funds would be invested in the state in next five years for rapid growth of rail network.

During his whirlwind visit today, the Railway minister inaugurated a new rail line between Khurda Road and Begunia, which forms 32-km stretch of the 289-km Khurda-Balangir track at Begunia.

Prabhu along with Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik also flagged off the first passenger train on the new line which chugged on from Begunia to Khurda Road.

The railway minister also inaugurated new railway station buildings at Begunia and Khurda town as well as the second entry and passenger facilities at Berhampur. Later Prabhu inaugurated the newly built railway station at Malatipatpur near Puri.

The Railways had taken a number of steps for the convenience of pilgrims during Nabakalebar festival, he said, adding, as many as 216 pairs of special trains would be run keeping in mind massive rush to Puri from Rath Yatra on July 18 till the ‘Bahuda’ yatra (return of chariots).

The railway minister also held meeting with officials in Puri to review various projects in the state.

Pledging Centre’s commitment to speedy growth of rail network in Odisha, Prabhu said Rs 195 crore had been sanctioned for Khurda-Balangir line and efforts were made to complete work up to Rajsunakhala beyond Begunia by September.

Describing rail infrastructure as the key to development, he said steps were being taken to start work for different other projects like Haridaspur-Paradip and Telcher-Bimlagarh lines.

Establishment of a skill development centre in state was also on the cards, Prabhu said. PTI