Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

A day after the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) reported massive irregularities in Biju Setu Yojana (BSY), the Opposition has slammed the Odisha government over the matter on Saturday.

As per the CAG audit report, 41 per cent of the bridges under BSY have not been completed due to delay in finalisation of tender, deficiencies in survey resulting in changes in design, failure in resolving land issues and slow pace works by contractors. As a result, people in the area are going through a tough time.

The CAG report, tabled in the Odisha Assembly stated that the State government had planned to complete 793 bridge projects during 2017 to 2021 out of which only 473 were completed, which is 59%. The scheme was launched by the State government in 2011 to bridge all the missing links on roads in rural areas.

The authorities could spend only Rs 2,255 crore against the budget provision of Rs 2,570 crore under BSY.

Take the case of Nuapadhi Gram Panchayat under Remuna block in Balasore district. A bridge over Ghungi ghat under BSY has been constructed. However, the bridge has no approach road on its right side and as a result, people of the area are using bamboos to connect the bridge with the road and crossing it dangerously by risking their lives.

“The bridge has no approach roads. We are depending upon a temporary bamboo bridge as an approach road to get connected with the bridge. It is very difficult to commute on the bridge. Many people have fallen and got themselves injured while crossing the bridge. Children are getting scared to cross the bridge through the bamboo bridge. Life has become very difficult for us. We can’t even come out from our village to make our living,” said Amitabh Kar, a resident of Balasore.

In reply, Balasore Collector Dattatraya Bhausaheb Shinde said that the work has started again and the bridges will be completed within three months.

“We have to purchase lands directly from people for the completion of the approach roads and the process has been completed. The construction work will be finished within three months,” said Shinde.

In another case of sheer neglect by the State government, a bridge under BSY on Son river in Totapada village under Remuna block is yet to be completed even after four years since the work started.

In another such incident, the construction work of a bridge at Nayapali village under Bhograi block under the same scheme is still going on from 2022. However, only the pillars of the bridge have been constructed and the local administration has no clue when the bridge will be completed.

Similarly, a bridge, which has been constructed with an expenditure of Rs 3.8 crore, connecting Bilasahi and Kusunpur village under Binjharpur block in Jajpur block is lying in unusable condition sans approach roads on both sides. Due to gross neglect by the administration and non-acquisition of land required for approach roads to the bridge, it is of no use.

“We are facing a lot of problems in communication because of the incomplete bridge. We are even finding it hard to reach medical during health emergencies,” said Bhubanananda Samal, a resident of Jajpur.

“Local people have demanded the completion of the bridge before the local administration several times, but it has fallen in deaf ears. The administration seems to be in a mood to delay the project to have their shares of money through corrupt activities,” added Samal.

Meanwhile, Opposition parties have slammed the Odisha government for massive irregularities in Biju Setu Project.

“As per the CAG report, it is pretty clear that the State government is indulged in corruption and irregularities. PAC will prepare an action report in this regard and the government will be dragged to court,” said senior BJP leader Mohan Majhi.

Congress demanded CBI inquiry into the incident.

“We demand a CBI inquiry into the incident. Stern action should be taken against the culprits who are involved in corruption,” said senior Congress leader Suresh Routray.

On the other hand, BJD said that due process has been followed for the implementation of the scheme.

“Tender was given for the construction of the bridges under the BSY scheme and proper process has been followed. Strong action will be taken against the persons who are responsible for the alleged irregularities,” said senior BJD leader Debi Prasad Mishra.