Why a committee for railway zone?

A separate railway zone was one of the key promises of the AP Reorganisation Act. The State should get a new railway zone, which would focus on the railway network development in the 13 districts of the State. That would be separate from the South Central Railway, which is located in Secunderabad.

The new railway zone for Andhra Pradesh would have Waltair, Vijayawada, Guntur and Guntakal divisions. It can also have a new division with Araku as headquarters with railway stations like Sompet, Palasa, Itchapuram, which are now part of the Khurda division of Odisha. The new zone can also have another division with Kakinada as a new division for administrative purposes.

The politicians have initially planned Vijayawada as headquarters for the new railway zone. But, with BJP’s State unit president Kambhampati Haribabu representing the Visakhapatnam Lok Sabha constituency, he was able to convince Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu to give the zone for Vizag. He had already taken away the AP Express to Visakha, though the express trains connecting national capital and named after the State are operated from the State capital. He did not allow officials to start the AP Express from Vijayawada/Amaravati and wanted it to start from Visakhapantam. Same way, he had taken the railway zone to Visakhapatnam and people of the State have accepted it as the Chief Minister himself had agreed for it.

Now, the Central government is adopting delay tactics in giving a new zone to the State as per the Reorganisation Act. The railway officials avoid a decision saying that it would require constituting a committee to study the issue. Out of the 18 railway zones that are working in the country, seven zones were created by the BJP-led NDA government headed by Vajpayee. The Vajpayee-led NDA never constituted any committee to create South Western Railway at Hubli, North Central Railway at Alahabad, South East Central Railway at Bilaspur, North Western Railway at Jaipur, East Central Railway at Hajipur, East Coast Railway at Bhubaneswar and West Central Railway at Jabalpur. When seven new zones were created by an order of the government by Vajpayee-led NDA, one wonders what was coming in the way for the Modi-led NDA to create one zone for AP!

What really comes in the way is the sincerity of the government, particularly the leadership of this NDA, the NDA headed by Modi. There is no reason why this government could wait for creation of the new zone for Vizag. The demand is as old as the East Coast Railway established at Bhubaneswar. Leaders like Dronamraju Satyanarayana, K Yerrannaidu and K Paidithallinaidu have held several protests against inclusion of Waltair division in the Bhubaneswar-based East Coast Railway. Now, if the new zone is created for AP, it is nothing new for the BJP, but a fulfilment of long-pending demand of the people and a promise and provision included in the AP Reorganisation Act.

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