Vizag needs a railway zone, now
It’s a demand whose time has come. The demand is for a railway zone to be located in Visakhapatnam. Local civil rights groups have been agitating for a new railway zone in the port city for the past 15 years.
Currently, the Waltair Division, which is based in Vizag, is part of the East Coast Railway headquartered in Bhubaneswar, Odisha. The Vijayawada, Guntur and Guntakal railway divisions, which are the other three railway divisions in Andhra Pradesh, are administered by the South Central Railway, which is based in Secunderabad.
Apart from civil society groups, political parties, too, have been raising the demand for a new railway zone. Parties like the YSR Congress and the Communist parties have held demonstrations on the issue. The rival political parties to the governing Telugu Desam Party could arguably be accused of playing politics, but there is no getting away from the fact that the TDP is in alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party, both in the Andhra Pradesh government and the central government. As a part of the NDA government, it is incumbent upon the TDP to impress upon the Centre the need for a new railway zone in Visakhapatnam.
A new railway zone in Visakhapatnam would stimulate economic activity in the self-styled ‘City of Destiny’ and its environs, and create jobs. The zone could be magnet to attract new investment in the logistics sector.
The government of Mr. Nara Chandrababu Naidu will need to get its act together and persuade the Railways Ministry to set up a new railway zone in Visakhapatnam. To be sure, Mr. Naidu has gone out of his way to reassure the people of Andhra Pradesh that the railway zone will indeed be based in Visakhapatnam.
Mr. Naidu said as recently as October 10th at Vizag that the headquarters of the new railway zone will be based in Visakhapatnam, adding that he will “ not let the people of Visakhapatnam down”. It is time that Mr. Naidu walked the talk. Time is at a premium, because the practice of having a separate Railway budget will be part of the general Budget from next year.
Mr. Naidu has till February next year to get the zone allocated, and ensure that the zone is not located in Vijayawada or anywhere else in the state.