Odisha coastal highway project to skip Chilika, National Highways body set for land survey
The highway will be developed as greenfield project avoiding ecologically sensitive areas like Chilika lake, Balukhand wildlife sanctuary, Bhitarakanika National Park and turtle nesting grounds.
BHUBANESWAR: The 382 km coastal highway project has got a big push with the Odisha government giving its consent to the new alignment proposal. The approval has paved way for the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) to start the land acquisition process.
As per the revised alignment, the highway will now originate from Tangi in Khurda instead of Satapada in Puri district to bypass Chilika lake and culminate at Digha touching Brahmagiri, Puri, Konark, Astarang, Naugaon, Paradip Port, Ratanpur, Satabhaya, Dhamra, Basudevpur, Talapada, Chandipur and Chandaneswar.
The project taken up under the Centre’s Bharatmala Pariyojana was stuck for last six years over its alignment. It was revised thrice following objections from the State government as it was affecting the eco-sensitive zones.
The NHAI will conduct the preliminary land survey with the help of Google map and submit the initial proposal to the Land Acquisition Committee (LAC) by the end of this month. The land acquisition process will start after the approval of the committee and statutory forest, environment and CRZ clearances.
Chief General Manager (Technical) of NHAI Ram Prasad Panda said the highway project has received in-principle approval from the State government. “Initially, it will be constructed as a two-lane highway and later expanded to four-lane depending on traffic. We will conduct the survey to estimate the areas coming under forest, CRZ, government and private categories,” he said.
The highway will be developed as greenfield project avoiding ecologically sensitive areas like Chilika lake, Balukhand wildlife sanctuary, Bhitarakanika National Park and turtle nesting grounds to minimise environmental impact. It will cross 11 rivers and several water channels in six coastal districts. Around 1,800 hectare of land will be acquired for the project.
Earlier estimated at Rs 8,000 crore, the construction cost is likely to be escalated up to Rs 10,000 crore as more bridges and culverts are required to avoid the ecosensitive areas. The highway divided in three sections - Tangi to Ratanpur (177.119 km), Ratanpur to Digha (170.7 km) and Dhamra to Basudevpur (33.93 km) - will be constructed in 10 to 12 packages costing Rs 500 crore to Rs 1,000 crore each.
The tender for at least two packages will be floated this fiscal and the project is expected to be completed by 2025. “Competent Authority for Land Acquisition (CALA ) will be appointed following the approval of the LAC. Once completed, the road will provide impetus to socio-economic growth and improve tourism potential in the coastal region,” Panda added. Highway experts, however, have suggested the NHAI to focus on the design of the road and create more water passages keeping in mind the devastation caused during 2007 and 2008 floods due to the newly constructed NH-60 that was severely damaged then.