BHUBANESWAR: The State Government today set a target to complete the bridge over Gurupriya river to connect 151 villages in the cut-off area of Malkangiri district to the mainland by September, 2017.
After a lapse of years, the State Government has started showing interest to complete the bridge, construction work for which could not be taken up due to Maoist threat. With the Maoist activities in the district on the rise, the state government has also decided to spend over `300 crore during the next two years for implementation of different projects in the tribal dominated district.
However, the state government has requested the Centre to release financial assistance to expedite the construction work of the Gurupriya bridge which has remained incomplete for the last 35 years.
The state works department has written a letter to the union home ministry to release `142.25 crore out of the estimated project cost of `167 crore.
Foundation stone for the 910 meter long bridge was laid twice. The foundation stone for the bridge project was laid for the first time by the then chief minister JB Patnaik in 1982 and for the second time by chief minister Naveen Patnaik in 2000.
However, no construction work could be started due to the Maoist fear. No company showed any interest in the project despite the state government floating tenders for eight times. Kolkata-based Royal Infrastructure Limited agreed to construct the bridge in 2014 and personnel of Border Security Force (BSF) are now poividing security cover.
The works department has taken up the construction work now after the project did not progress despite efforts by the state government and the Centre.
Additional chief secretary in the chief minister's office Upendra Nath Behera, who has been appointed as the special officer for the overall development of the Maoist hit district, visited Malkangiri on January 19 and 20 and reviewed the progress of all projects.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today reviewed implementation of different projects in the district in a high level meeting here. Construction of 249 roads have been sanctioned under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) as a part of strengthening infrastructure in the Maoist hit district. Out of this, construction of 75 roads have been completed while work on 163 is on.
The state government has decided to connect 434 hamlets in the district with less than 100 population with roads under PMGSY phase-II programme. While 23 bridges have been sanctioned for the district, work on 11 will be completed by June, 2016.