New Delhi: A railway zone with Visakhapatnam as headquarters seems to be imminent as the BJP high command and the Centre mellowed down a bit following vigorous protests undertaken by MPs from Andhra Pradesh in Parliament.
Union Minister Sujana Chowdary has been holding parleys with Odisha leaders and minister from Odisha Devendra Pradhan as Odisha has been objecting to creation of a railway zone with Visakhapatnam as headquarters from the beginning.
Devendra Pradhan and leaders from Odisha are understood to have given their nod for creating the youngest railway zone. During parleys held in Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu’s chambers on Friday, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Sujana Chowdary and BJP president Amit Shah were present.
They are learnt to have decided to issue a notification within two weeks as the matter is administrative and hence does not warrant placing it before parliament. Therefore, a notification is likely sooner or later.
At the end of Friday meeting, Piyush Goyal is learnt to have directed his office staff to take steps to fulfill all formalities and keep relevant documents ready. The process to create new railway zone will be kicked off on Monday. Since Visakhapatnam is included under the South Central Railway, the matter would be discussed with the South Central Railway as well as the East Coast Railway officials before initiating process on the new railway zone.
After completing all formalities on Monday, the matter would be taken to the notice of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Once PM’s clearance is obtained, Piyush Goyal will issue a statement.
After the bifurcation of AP, the South Central Railway zone is allotted to Telangana. Andhra Pradesh has been demanding the Center to allot a railway zone exclusively for it.
But the Center cold-shouldered the demand. The AP leaders’ contention is that states with less area of railway network have been granted railway zones, but not Andhra Pradesh. Therefore, they reiterate their demand for a new railway zone.
The railway network in Andhra Pradesh spreads over an area of 3,704 km, as against 1213 km in Chhattisgarh (South East Central Railway), 2752 km in Odisha (East Coast Railway zone) and 3281 km in Karnataka (South Western Railway zone).
BJP leader Kambhampati Haribabu, responding to the issue, said a committee has been constituted to look into the matter. He released a 27-page note here on Saturday explaining the central bonanza—projects and funds sanctioned -- to the AP.
On the other hand, a delegation of former railway employees, led by former minister Konatala Ramakrishna, explained the significance of forming new railway zone to Amit Sha and Piyush Goyal.
Senior trade union leader of railway workers Chalasani Gandhi said that they responded favourably to create a new railway zone. Speaking to The Hans India, Bapatla MP Sriram Malyadri says: “The Centre will make an announcement on separate railway zone with Visakhapatnam as headquarters within four days. Jailtely said he will make an announcement after speaking with the Prime Minister.”