Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Residents in many parts of Odisha are still deprived of basic amenities even after 75 years of independence due to the alleged apathy of the administration.

Take the case of a road at Kumulabahali village under Palanghati Panchayat of Keonjhar district. The damaged road, connecting Kumulabahali and Erendei, with full of craters and potholes and has turned into a death trap for the local residents.

The murram road was constructed under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) three years ago. However, the road was washed away after a few spells of rain. Though, the public representatives and administrative authorities have assured the local residents of a pucca road in the area umpteen times, nothing has materialized yet.

Irked by the sheer apathy of the administration, some members of a voluntary organisation named ‘Bharasha’ have started repairing the damaged road by working as labourers and spending money from their own pockets.

“The road is in a dangerous condition and many accidents are happening on a daily basis. However, the administration has turned deaf ears to the repeated pleas of the local residents to repair the road. Hence, we were forced to repair the road by spending money from our own pockets,” said Sumanta Barik, a volunteer from Palanghati.

In another picture of neglect, an under-construction bridge over Budhabalanga River near the Udala area is yet to be completed even seven years after the foundation stone was laid.

As per reports, lakhs of people depend on a bridge from the British era to commute from Udala to Baripada and vice versa on a daily basis. In a bid to widen and strengthen the bridge, the foundation stone of the project was laid in 2017 with a deadline of 2019 to complete the construction work. However, the project is yet to be completed even after seven years.

Initially, a budget of Rs 27 crore was estimated for the 11-metre-wide and 292-metre-long bridge with as many as seven pillars. The amount of the estimated budget has now increased to Rs 47 crore. However, the public representatives, authorities of local district administration, and officials of the Public Works Department (PWD) are clueless about the completion of the bridge.

Local residents have expressed their resentment over the long delay in the construction of the bridge.

“The bridge should have been completed in 2019. However, it is yet to be completed and as a result, the residents of the area are facing lots of hardships. Due to the recent diversion near the bridge, many accidents are happening on a regular basis. The administration is completely clueless about when the project will be completed,” said Jayant Kumar Nayak, a resident of Baripada.

However, in response to the allegations by the residents, Baripada PWD Executive Engineer, Rohan Gourav Roy assured that the bridge will be completed soon.

“The reason behind the delay in the construction work of the bridge is the prolonged eviction drive that took nearly one year. The main bridge has been completed. We are constructing the approach roads on a war footing. Hopefully, the bridge will be fully ready within one or two months,” said Roy.