Odishatv Bureau

Bhubaneswar: Even as work on the proposed 452-km long coastal highway in Odisha under Centre's flagship Bharatmala Pariyojana is yet to begin, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) today said the most awaited project is likely to be completed in the next two-and-a-half years.

Chairing a high-level meeting on the project, Chief Secretary AP Padhi today held discussions with the officials of NHAI.

Anand Kumar Singh, member, NHAI (Project) said the coastal highway is a very ambitious project in Odisha.

“We have already decided on the detailed project report (DPR) barring some concerns of the state government,” Singh said.

“If we get approvals and cooperation in proper time, then we would be able to complete its major portions in next two-and-half-a-years,” said Singh.

“We have apprised the NHAI about our concerns in some patches of the proposed highway like the position of the bridge over Chilika and other eco-sensitive zones on the 452-km long highway between Gopalpur in Ganjam district and Digha in West Bengal. Work will be initiated in separate stretches from Konark to Astarang and Astarang to Paradip and so concerns over each of the areas need to be looked at. The NHAI has assured us to look at our concerns," Padhi told mediapersons after the meeting.

According to sources, the proposed highway which aims to connect several existing and upcoming ports, including Gopalpur, Astarang, Paradip, Kirtania and Chandipur in Odisha is not only a viable concept to bolster economy in coastal pockets but also will pave way for alternative economic opportunities to people in these areas.

The project will also drastically reduce the distance between Odisha and the neighbouring Bengal.

This apart, the highway is likely to play a vital role in handling rescue and relief operations during natural disasters, informed sources.