MALKANGIRI: Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Thursday dedicated the much awaited Gurupriya bridge to the nation and announced a special package of Rs 100 crore for the people living in the Swabhiman Areas (formerly known as cut-off areas) in the Maoist hinterland of Odisha's Malkangiri district.
Built at a cost of Rs 187.25 crore in a record time of four years in Chitrakonda, the 910-meter long and 8.4-meter wide bridge provides a vital connectivity to 151 villages spread over eight panchayats with a population of 30,000 tribals that were cut-off from the mainland for the last five decades.
Speaking on the occasion, the Chief Minister said Gurupriya bridge signifies a resurgent Odisha and it will transform lives in the villages that were cut-off since long. It is not just a bridge, it will be the identity and Swabhiman of Malkanagiri, he said. At the core of development is connectivity, Naveen said and maintained that Gurupriya bridge is a national pride that symbolises peace, cooperation and progress. "It is a testimony to our commitment to integrate all parts of Odisha to mainland and thereby to prosperity. It is our dream come true and Gurupriya is truly a bridge of progress," he said.
The Chief Minister paid homage to those martyred for the bridge and appealed to left wing extremists in the region to forsake violence and embrace progress that the bridge brings to the region. Peace is of utmost importance for progress. Gurupriya bridge enables peace in the area. Built in a record time by overcoming several odds and obstacles, the bridge reflects Odisha's steely resolve.
The term cut-off is history from the historic day and with renewed esteem, those villages will henceforth be known as Swabhiman Areas, he announced. Conceptualised in 1986, the construction work for the bridge was actually started in 2014 after several failed attempts due to technical challenges and threats from the left wing extremists.
The CM also inaugurated the new building of 300-bed Malkangiri District Headquarters Hospital and said the tribal district has always been a special place for him for which it tops the agenda as far as development of the area is concerned.
Naveen announced a special package of Rs 100 crore for the improvement of life and livelihood of people in the Swabhiman Areas. The fund would be utilised for the construction of seven small bridges, aquaculture, road connectivity, electrification, drinking water supply and health services in those villages.