SAMBALPUR: It took more than six decades for the dream of people of Lakhanpur block in Jharsuguda district to come true on Sunday when Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik dedicated the 2.5-km bridge over river Ib, a tributary of river Mahanadi, which flows directly into Hirakud reservoir.
The bridge connects Rengali block in Sambalpur district with Lakhanpur. It is the longest bridge of western Odisha and the project was completed in three years.
Apart from inaugurating the bridge at Sapne in Rengali block of the district, Naveen also laid foundation stone of Rengali-Sapne by-pass road connecting to Sambalpur-Rourkela State Highway 10, which is a part of Biju Expressway.
Addressing the gathering at Jogipali in Rengali block, Naveen said the bridge is a milestone for the region. It will help connect the coal region of Brajrajnagar and Belpahar in Jharsuguda with Sambalpur and improve transport and accelerate economic growth, he added.
The bridge was mooted along with construction of Hirakud Dam more than six decades back. But it was only after the boat tragedy in Hirakud Dam in 2014, which claimed 31 lives, that the State Government took serious note of the demand and the project was executed by the Public Works Department at an estimated cost of about `117.5 crore. Sixtytwo-year-old Chaturbhuja Pradhan of Tilia village under Lakhanapur block, situated on other side of the bridge, said they had never thought that the dream could ever be realised.
Since the construction required working inside the river which has water round the year, they had stopped dreaming. It took them about three hours to reach Sambalpur city, located at a distance of about 105 km from the village.
With the bridge coming up, now the distance has been reduced to 36 km. It will enable them to reach VSS Institute of Medical Sciences and Research at Burla early to avail better medical services and help the children pursue higher education in Sambalpur, he added.