The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) government in Andhra Pradesh has found fault with the bifurcation of the Waltair division by the Centre as part of the announcement of a separate railway zone for Andhra Pradesh with its headquarters in Visakhapatnam. Cabinet Minister Nara Lokesh termed this as another betrayal by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Fulfilling one of the key commitments made to Andhra Pradesh at the time of bifurcation, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal on Wednesday announced a new railway division named South Coast Railway with its headquarters at Visakhapatnam.
The new zone will comprise of existing Guntakal, Guntur and Vijayawada divisions, Goyal announced at a press conference in New Delhi. However, the Centre also said that the Waltair division would be bifurcated, with parts of it to go to Odisha and parts of it to Andhra.
Lokesh, who is also the son of Chief Minister and TDP president N Chandrababu Naidu, tweeted that the bifurcation of the Waltair division was unjust like the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh. "Then revenue-making Hyderabad was given away to Telangana and now revenue-making part of Waltair division has been given to Odisha," he said.
Lokesh pointed out that the part of 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.
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 (ECoR) which has its headquarters in Bhubaneswar, will be split into two parts - with one part to be incorporated in the new zone and merged with the neighbouring Vijayawada division, while the remaining portion will be converted into a new division with headquarters at Rayagada under the ECoR.
The South Central Railway will now comprise of Hyderabad, Secunderabad and Nanded divisions, said an official statement.
Meanwhile, announcing the Centreās decision, Goyal said, "As per item 8 of schedule 13 (Infrastructure) of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014, Indian Railways was required to examine establishing a new railway zone in the successor State of Andhra Pradesh. The matter was examined in detail in consultation with stake holders and it has been decided to go ahead with creation of new zone with headquarter at Visakhapatnam."
A railway zone was one of the commitments made to Andhra Pradesh at the time of its bifurcation in 2014. Under the Andhra Pradesh Reorganization Act, the Railways was required to examine establishing a new railway zone in the successor state of Andhra Pradesh.
The announcement came ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Visakhapatnam on March 1.