Odishatv Bureau

New Delhi/Bhubaneswar: Replying to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on construction of second bridge over river Brahmani in Rourkela, Union Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari today said delay in granting statutory approval from Odisha Government including forest clearance and land acquisition has led to non- commencement of project on Birmitrapur-Barkote section of NH-143.

In a letter to Patnaik, Gadkari said "I was surprised and pained to receive your letter and media reports suggesting the delay on part of NHAI. I may like to clarify that all these projects are delayed for want of forest clearance and land issues.”

He promised to begin the work within seven days of necessary approvals.

Recalling the previous meeting with him in Delhi, Gadkari reminded Patnaik that he had raised the issues of forest clearance and land acquisition and the CM had assured to resolve all pending issues at the earliest. However, four such projects are waiting for necessary approvals from Odisha government, the letter read.

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"I raised the issue regarding inordinate delay from the Forest Department , Government of Odisha in granting approvals and also delay in land acquisition, due to which major projects of about 500 km length with investment of about Rs 5000 crore were not getting started," he said though his letter.

The Union Minister further stated that the Odisha government should appreciate his stand as he rejected its proposal for a new two lane Brahmani bridge and approved six lane instead in view of future growth in traffic and socio economic importance of the bridge.

He stated that his ministry has been proactively taking up development of NH in Odisha and already projects of 3121 km with approximately an investment of Rs 22,011 crore has been on in the State.

In reply to the letter of Gadkari, Odisha Parliamentary Affairs Minister Bikram Keshari Arukh today informed the State Assembly that forest clearance is not required for the construction of bridge over river Brahmani in Rourkela.

“There is no forest near the proposed bridge site. Rourkela DFO has already apprised his higher authorities on the matter. Moreover, no land acquisition is required for construction of a bridge over Brahamni river. I request to BJP not to mislead the people and expedite the work,” Arukh said.

BJP legislature party chief KV Singhdeo came down on the ruling party for misleading the House. “I support the proposal of Leader of Opposition Narasingh Mishra for formation of Privileges Committee, which could clear the government motive over the issue. Minister Arukh could have clarified the forest clearance matter much before the Naveen-Gadkari meeting in Delhi. The ruling party is trying to divert attention from the main issue,” Singhdeo said.

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