KENDRAPARA: A large number of villagers blocked the road at Dangamal, the main entry point of Bhitarkanika National Park, on Friday, August 20, 2021, protesting the bad condition of roads in the region. Accusing the administration of turning a blind eye to the situation, the agitators said around 50,000 people of 25 villages in Mahulia, Chandibausamula, Bhitargada, Kandira, Ghadiamala, Iswarapur, Khamarasahi, Dangamal, Krushnanagar, Talachua, Baghamari, Rangani and Keruapala panchayats within the park and its nearby areas have no proper road communication. Sub-standard road construction work and indifference of the authorities concerned towards developing the area have led to the situation, they alleged.
Pradip Das of Dangamal said, “Our village road has not been repaired since long. Despite repeated pleas to the panchayat bodies and other officials, there has been no improvement in the situation.” Sources said the administration had built an eight km road from Dangamal to Talachua two years back. Now, the road is riddled with potholes due to sub-standard work.
Abhaya Das, a tour operator of Rajnagar, said each day, a large number of tourists use the road from Rajnagar to Dangamal to reach the mangrove forest of Bhitarkanika. The travel is a nightmare for tourists who face a lot of difficulties due to the bad roads, he added.
Former Rajnagar MLA Ansuman Mohanty said due to substandard repair and construction work, the main roads in these villages are replete with crater-like potholes. Villagers, who mostly eke out a living from agriculture and pisciculture, find it difficult to sell their products, particularly the perishable items, in the rainy season as it is difficult for them to reach the nearby towns of Rajnagar and Pattamundai.
President of Rajnagar block unit of Congress Debendra Jena said commuters face a tough time due water stagnation and potholes on the roads. The State government had announced several developmental projects for areas near Bhitarkanika but a few have seen the light so far, he alleged.
Contacted, assistant executive engineer of Roads and Buildings department Amiya Sinha said, “We will build a two-lane eight km concrete road from Dangamal to Talachua at a cost of `13 crore. Tender for this project has already been floated. After its finalisation, we will start the work.”