'Model railway station' without amenities
Ichchapuram is the second highest revenue generating station in Khurda division Ramesh Babu Srikakulam: Ichchapuram Railway Station is a crucial ...
Ichchapuram is the second highest revenue generating station in Khurda division Ramesh Babu Srikakulam: Ichchapuram Railway Station is a crucial junction between Odisha and Andhra Pradesh. It is the last railway station in Srikakulam district on the Odisha border and a gateway to Andhra Pradesh from the northern side. It was declared a 'model station' in the Railway Budget in 2010-11 and public representatives and officials had promised to make this come true. According to locals, this railway station is the second biggest in Khurda division in terms of revenue collection after the divisional headquarters itself. However, with the promises of the people's representatives fading away as quickly as a speeding train, several problems plaguing this railway station have lessened its importance. Because of the sheer negligence of the public representatives and the officials, this railway station lacks even basic facilities, the local people said. Lack of proper toilets and waiting hall are forcing the passengers to wait in the hot sun until the train arrives. Also, those who want to use toilets are frustrated because most often there is no water supply. There is no sign of drinking water even in mid-summer. There are no sheds for parking vehicles around the station either. This is the fate of a station that has been declared 'model railway station' and supposed to be developed. It is the main station for Ichchapuram and Kaviti mandals in Andhra Pradesh and Cheekati and Pathrapuram in Ganjam district in Odisha so much so that people describe it as an inter-district railway station. According to the 2011-12 census, approximately 1,550 passengers travel from one place to another. The Ichchapuram station earns the highest annual revenue of Rs 572 lakh after the divisional headquarters station Khurda. It is also the second biggest freight transporting station in the country. Despite this, some important trains do not stop here, forcing the passengers to depend on the road route. Ichchapuram station is way ahead of others like Sompeta in Andhra Pradesh and Kallikota, Kalupadaghat and Chatrapur stations in Odisha in revenue generation and passenger traffic. Yet, important trains like Bhubaneswar-Tirupati, Puri-Yaswantpur Garib Rath Express and Puri-Chennai Weekly Express, which halt in neighbouring stations like Chatrapur and Sompeta, do not stop at Ichchapuram. As the authorities had failed to keep their promise to develop it as a 'model station', people in the surrounding areas said that they were depending on less convenient stations like Sompeta in order to board some important trains. After a number of agitations in the past, Falaknuma and Konark Express trains were permitted to stop at Ichchapuram. With the same inspiration, the people here have formed 'Railway Sadhana Samithi' and began agitating to get Howrah-Yaswantpur Prashanti and Puri-Ahmedabad Express trains to stop here. Earlier, they organised a number of rasta rokos and even observed a bandh. Passengers as well as traders responded favourably to these agitations. Samithi member Konda Sankar Reddy said that officials and MLAs, who responded to the agitations, had promised to provide a halt for Howrah-Yaswantpur and Puri-Ahmedabad Express trains at Ichchapuram, but failed to keep their word. He said that he had quit the post since then. The agitation would be intensified by roping in all trade unions, people and transport agencies on the State border, he said. However, Railway Users' Committee president Katta Suryaprakash said that higher officials have given an assurance that Howrah-Yaswantpur and Puri-Ahmedabad trains would halt at Ichchapuram from June 1. Also, recently Ichchapuram station has been upgraded from 'D' category to 'B'. Therefore, modernisation of the station would become easier, he said. Earlier, former Minister of State for Railways Giridhar Gomango, who belongs to Odisha, strived to develop the station to some extent. Later, when Mamata Bannerjee was the Railway Minister, Ichchapuram was declared a 'model railway station', but the people's hopes were dashed to the ground. "Andhra Pradesh is represented by a Minister of State for Railways after a long time. Still, it is of no use," he said. When Minister Kotla Jaya Surya Prakash Reddy visited Srikakulam recently, the problems of the railway station were brought to his notice and he said he would look into these. "At least now, the officials and MLAs should respond by developing the railway station," said Ichchapuram Consumers' Welfare Union president Janaki Ramaiah.