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Odishatv Bureau

Puri: Even as four years have elapsed since Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik laid foundation stone of a bridge for the welfare of Talada islanders in Astaranga block of Puri district, the dream project of the local residents is yet to see the light of the day.

As many as 10,000 inhabitants of the island rely on the boat, the only medium of water, to cross Devi River putting lives in risk.

The construction of the project at a cost of Rs 38 crore began in 2013. However, locals alleged administrative apathy acts major hindrance in its completion.

Locals said about 1.85 acres of land were acquired by the government for the project. But, the land losers have not yet been compensated following which the aggrieved villagers stopped the construction work as a mark of protest.

“We pledge before the government to pay our dues at the earliest so that the work would resume. If the villagers are paid their dues, they would allow for the work,” Bijay Padhiari, an intellectual said.

“I have submitted legal heir certificate for last one and half year but still I have not got my dues back. We are poor farmers and have small lands which had provided us with our daily bread and butter. We are ready to give lands, but government should properly compensate us”, said Sukant Dalei, a local resident.

When asked, Anadi Sahu, the Deputy Executive Engineer, Rural Works, Kakatpur denied allegation of compensation. “Construction works and land acquisition processes are going on simultaneously. I have already discussed with the district collector in this regard. We have also notified the affected land owners. They have been informed that they should deposit their relevant documents so that the process of land acquisition can begin. Moreover, if everything goes right the project could be completed by February 2018,” he said.

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