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Why new Railway Division for AP is not good news

Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Andhra Pradesh, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal announced the creation of a new railway division ‘The South Coastal Railways’ with its headquarters in Visakhapatnam. However, a close understanding of the South Coastal Railways actually reflects that this will strip Andhra Pradesh of its current revenue of Rs. 7,000 crore which it is making from the Waltair Division. 
 
According to Goyal, the new zone will comprise the existing Guntakal, Guntur and Vijayawada divisions. But, the Waltair division will be bifurcated, with parts of it to go to Odisha and parts of it to Andhra. A part of the Waltair division merged with East Coast Railway was earning Rs. 6,500 crore annually through freight, while the part given to the new zone has revenues of only Rs. 500 crore through passenger traffic. 
 
Terming this gross injustice by the BJP government at the Centre, Nara Lokesh, IT & Panchayat Raj Minister said that “then revenue-making Hyderabad was taken away and now, revenue-making Waltair division is bifurcated.” Guntakal, Guntur and Vijayawada divisions currently form part of South Central Railway, which has its headquarters in Secunderabad. 
 
The Waltair division, currently with the East Coast Railway, which has its headquarters in Bhubaneswar, will be split into two parts - one part to be incorporated in the new zone and merged with the Vijayawada division, while the remaining portion will be converted into a new division with headquarters at Rayagada (Odisha) under the East Coast Railways.
 
While Piyush Goyal said that the promise made in the AP Reorganisation Act, 2014 has been fulfilled, TDP leaders allege this half-hearted decision of the BJP has been taken without consulting the state government or the railways. 
 
According to the state government, 7 stations of Srikakulam are still in Khurda Road Division - Palasa, Jhadupudi, Mandasa Road, Summadevi, Ichapuram, Baruva, Sompeta. “We demand that these stations also be included in the South Coast Railway zone,” said TDP MP Rammohan Naidu. On the other hand, they are protesting the bifurcation of Waltair division.
 
“The Waltair division must be retained in its new form & not be clubbed with Vijayawada division. Waltair is more than a name, it symbolizes cultural significance of North Andhra. It must not be erased for the sake of bureaucratic ease or such superficial reasons. Railway Minister Goyal leaves many questions unanswered. Of the 7 stations in Srikakulam that aren’t part of Waltair division? Why did it take 5 years to announce a zone whose technicalities were already worked out?,” questioned the TDP MP. 
 
Additionally, TDP leaders say that declaring railway zone without working out technicalities only two days before Modi visits Vizag, “shows how they play low politics with long-standing demands of people. The careless announcement will not placate people. They will see through your games and gimmicks.”
 
Further, they demanded the Centre to clarify when the railway zone would be established and on what basis the Centre had arrived at a decision to divide the Waltair Division. “Has the Railway Board been taken into confidence? Has there been a Cabinet meeting on actualising this announcement? Is this another jumla for votes?,” they question. 
 
The railway zone announcement looks like a hasty decision taken by the BJP government which has done more damage to the state financially, than doing it good as it will make the state suffer more financially. 

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