In a major blow to the long-pending demand of the people in Andhra Pradesh, Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba made it clear on Monday that that the state would not be given a separate railway zone.
The demand for a separate zone, with its headquarters at Visakhapatnam, is often clubbed with protests for granting Special Category Status to Andhra. Many along Andhra’s northern coast have reiterated the demand.
Rajiv Gauba said that feasibility reports and the Railway Board were not in favour of a new railway zone for the state. He also said that a new port at Duggirajupatnam was not feasible, and asked the state to look for alternate site.
This comes even as the state unit of the BJP recently insisted that the Centre would grant the state a separate railway zone.
“We should not expect the railway zone. One of the two Union ministers from the TDP had made bold statements that the railway zone would be addressed by the Centre before March 5. But, before the deadline, the ministers resigned from their posts and the prevailing acrimony between the BJP and TDP means we can forget about the railway zone,” SS Shiva Shankar, president of Uttarandhra Rakshna Vedika (URV), was quoted as saying.
In January this year, then Minister of State for Science and Technology, Y Sujana Chowdary, said that the demand in Andhra Pradesh for a separate rail zone was not viable.
The Minister was quoting a railway technical committee report.
The separate railway zone for Andhra Pradesh was included in the 13th Schedule of the AP Reorganisation Act. The state government had suggested that the railway zone could be established by clubbing Waltair, Vijayawada, Guntur and Guntakal divisions.
Andhra Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu has also assured his state several times that a railway zone would definitely be established, with its headquarters at Visakhapatnam.