Railway Connectivity Set to Transform Bhitarkanika National Park Experience in Odisha

Railway Connectivity Set to Transform Bhitarkanika National Park Experience in Odisha

The Bhitarkanika National Park in Odisha, renowned for its biodiversity and a popular tourist spot, is set to be connected by a new rail route. The proposed Jajpur Road-Dhamra railway line will traverse two significant tourist destinations, namely Aradi in Bhadrak and Bhitarkanika in the Kendrapara district.

The envisioned alignment of the new railway line includes plans for at least 10 stations between Jajpur Road and Dhamra. The final location survey (FLS) for this 95-km line, approved last year with a budget of Rs 2.4 crore, is currently underway from both ends.

Part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Purvoday’ initiative, the railway line aims to link vital religious and tourist spots in Jajpur, Bhadrak, and Kendrapara districts. It will establish a direct connection between the Maa Biraja temple, one of the country’s oldest Shakti peethas, and the renowned Shaivite shrine of Baba Akhandalamani at Aradi.

According to railway sources, the route will pass through Chhotaraipur, Rampur Segadi, Bahabalpur, Jajpur Town, Jaleswarpur, Saipura, Mangalpur, Aradi, Chandabali, and Bhitarkanika. A railway junction is planned at Chhotaraipur along the route. Initially sanctioned in 2012-13, the project gained momentum after being prioritized by Union Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw.

With a rate of return (ROR) of 27.43 percent, the rail line is projected to cost Rs 1,042 crore. Apart from boosting economic activities for local industries and Dhamra port, it will cater to the transportation needs of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). Additionally, the line will facilitate the movement of minerals from Sukinda Valley, Keonjhar, and Talcher, along with industrial goods from Angul and Kalinganagar.

The proposed railway line is expected to reduce the distance between Jajpur Road and Dhamra by 13 km, benefiting approximately 30 lakh people across three districts. Furthermore, it will provide rail connectivity to Bhitarkanika, the second Ramsar site in the state after Chilika Lake. Once linked to the railway network, the national park, home to saltwater crocodiles and diverse flora and fauna, is poised to become a major attraction for tourists and nature enthusiasts.

A railway official stated, “The final local survey of the project is progressing rapidly and is anticipated to conclude by March. The survey report is scheduled to be submitted in April for approval, after which the detailed project report and final approval process will commence.”