Himansu Shekhar Rout

As the general elections 2024 are drawing closer, pictures of neglect have come to the fore in Sambalpur and Balasore, contrary to the big claim of the Odisha government about its ‘World-class’ development.

People feeling neglected and sidelined over the years have started raising their voices against the government.   

As per reports, residents of Bhoipalli under Dhudipalli panchayat in Sambalpur area still struggle on the communication front even 77 years after the Independence. Upset, they warned of the poll boycott if the much-needed road is not built in the village. 

The locals alleged that in the absence of an all-weather road between Bhoipalli and Dhudipali panchayats, they have to commute on a forest track on a daily basis. The road passing through Bhoipalli, Kumbharuniposi, Budelkani, Bijaguda, Damagaon and Ladammal is in bad shape. 

Though leaders had promised to build the road during the 2019 elections, nothing was done to work out the promise. Hence residents have vowed to boycott the elections this time, it is learnt.  

Angry over the alleged government apathy, the villagers have decided to skip polling this time. A villager said, "We are suffering a lot due to lack of roads. If the issues are not resolved before elections, we will boycott polling.”

However, Kuchinda Sub-collector Hemsagar Bhoi said as usual that a proposal has been sent to the government and the road work will start soon. 

Here is another sorry state at Alumeda village under the Balasore Sadar block. There is no bridge across Dubidubi River. Over the years, people of this village ferry across the river on rickety boats every day, risking their lives. Villagers say the boat ferrying is fraught with risk and apprehend mishaps anytime.

Though the construction of a bridge was started seven years back, it is yet to complete. With a change in its designs, contractors have been changed these years. 

In 2019, the ruling party had managed to get votes on the promise of the bridge across Dubidubi, said the locals. 

Uttam Kumar Sen a villager of Alumeda, expressed his displeasure on the routine communication woes.”As elections come, leaders come with loads of promises. Once elections are over, no one is seen here. We keep on suffering. The bridge project is hanging fire and two contractors have been changed.”

Satyabadi Beura, supervisor of construction agency Kiran laxmi Infrastructure, held the R&B department responsible for the slow pace of work. He said that the department points out changes in the bridge design when one thing has already been completed.    

However, Balasore MLA Swarup Dash blamed the construction agencies, saying, “Construction agencies are not doing good work. Though we have terminated their contracts, they moved the court. If the work is not completed, we will intervene and go to the court.”

Report by Debendra Behera & Prakash Mohanty