Himansu Shekhar Rout

A blame-game ensued after the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) on Sunday took potshots at the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan over the slow pace of construction of NH-55. Responding to the BJD, the BJP passed the buck on to the state government for delay in land acquisition.

Addressing a presser in Bhubaneswar on Sunday, BJD leader Goutam Buddha Das said, “The NH-55 that connects Cuttack with Sambalpur is said to be one of the lifelines of Odisha. Now, the NH-55 has turned out to be the most dangerous road in the country.”

He added that over the last seven to eight years, the highway has transformed into a deathtrap. 

The NHAI has been claiming that the expansion and extension of the NH-55 has been going on for the last eight years, but its completion is nowhere in sight, the BJD leader observed. If accidents are taken into consideration on this road, at least 2 lives are lost and 10 to 15 people are injured on a daily basis, he claimed.

The BJD leader said that Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan belongs to a district through which the NH-55 is passing, but he seems to be in deep slumber. 

“The people will give a befitting reply to the Central government in the days to come,” he stated.

However, the Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) retaliated, pointing out the reason for the delay in NH-55 expansion. BJP leader Jatin Mohanty said, “At several places, land has not been acquired. The state government is responsible for the land acquisition. But this has not happened over the years. Inordinate delay in the project is unnecessarily being attributed to the NHAI and the Central government.”

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“As long as the state government will be failing to acquire the required land, the expansion of the NH-55 will not be possible. Besides, there is the issue of law and order and Naxal menace at some places. Several times in the past, Union Ministers Dharmendra Pradhan and Nitin Gadkari pointed out the bottlenecks and asked the state government to sort out the issues, but no steps have been taken,” he added.