SAMBALPUR: People of Sambalpur and Jharsuguda districts have demanded that the newly-constructed bridge over river Ib, a tributary of Mahanadi, should be named after veteran communist leader Prasanna Panda.The bridge connects Rengali block of Sambalpur district with Lakhanpur block in Jharsuguda. The construction of the bridge has been completed. However, it is yet to be inaugurated. The Public Works department executed the construction of 2.5 km long bridge at a cost of about `117.5 crore.
Locals in both the districts convened two separate meetings at both ends of the bridge on Wednesday and unanimously decided to raise their demand. They also marched on the bridge to pressurise the Government to look into their demand.Convener of Paschimanchal People’s Forum, Sapan Mishra, said locals had welcomed the construction of the new bridge connecting Sapne in Rengali with Tilia in Lakhanpur. “We will request Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik by submitting a memorandum through Sambalpur District Collector, Samarth Verma, on Thursday to name the new bridge as ‘Comrade Prasanna Panda Setu”, he added.
The locals claimed that the bridge would be inaugurated by the CM on March 12. The six-time MLA from Brajrajnagar Assembly Constituency, late Prasanna Panda, was a veteran politician. Panda, who joined Communist Party of India (CPI) in 1952, had played a pivotal role in peasants’ movement in undivided Sambalpur district. He had also worked for the development of rural areas and rehabilitation of displaced families of Hirakud project.Earlier, Sambalpur MP Nagendra Pradhan had also written to the CM for the same. Several social organisations had also raised similar demand.