A handful tribals vs economic growth

Though ground work has begun for the mega expansion project of National Highway (NH)-143 between Birmitrapur and Rourkela after an inordinate delay, a section of tribal people is up in arms against th

Published: 26th September 2017 04:14 AM  |   Last Updated: 26th September 2017 07:45 AM   |  A+A-

Tribals taking out a protest march in rourkela on Monday | Express

By Express News Service

ROURKELA:Though ground work has begun for the mega expansion project of National Highway (NH)-143 between Birmitrapur and Rourkela after an inordinate delay, a section of tribal people is up in arms against the new alignment for the six-lane second Brahmani bridge at Rourkela.

On Monday, the tribals under the banner of Sundargarh Zilla PESA Gram Sabha Coordination Committee (SZPGSCC) took out a protest march from Panposh which culminated at the office of Rourkela ADM.
SZPGSCC coordinator Santosh Oram claimed that tribal land at Dandiapali is being acquired in violation of the guidelines and no Gram Sabha approval has been taken for the project. The National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) should carry out the expansion project on the existing NH 143 stretch failing which the protest would be intensified throughout the district, he warned.

Significantly, the NHAI has dropped its previous plan to construct a two-lane bridge parallel to the existing Brahmani bridge at Panposh. Instead, given the huge traffic volume, the revised proposal has been finalised to construct two three-lane bridges at Balughat, about one km from the existing one, requiring realignment through Dandiapali and Brahmani Tarang villages.

Sources in the Land Acquisition Cell for NH 143 informed that only 9.5 hectares (ha) of private land would be acquired at Dandiapali village for the new alignment while land acquisition in Brahmani Tarang village is already over. Incidentally, acquisition of private land at three remaining villages in Birmitrapur tehsil for construction of a bypass of the NH has been stalled for over three years due to similar protests.
With the existing bridge, considered as the economic lifeline of Rourkela Smart City, becoming weak, demand for the second Brahmani bridge has become an emotive issue. Prime Minister Narendra Modi in April, 2105 had announced to complete the project on a war footing. It remains to be seen if the district administration buckles under pressure of a handful of tribal protestors ignoring the larger interest of lakhs of people or goes forward with the project.

A senior NHAI official requesting anonymity said the protest is unjustified as the project promises to enhance economic prosperity along the new alignment. He hoped that the project will be completed in 30 months.At the foundation laying ceremony in July, Union Minister for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari had informed that the NH 143 expansion project of 125 kms from Birmitrapur in Sundargarh to Barkote in Deogarh district would be completed in two years in three packages with total investment of nearly `2,500 crores.



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