New Delhi/Bhubaneswar: In reply to the letter of Union Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari which stated that delay in forest clearance was the reason for non-commencement of construction of second bridge over Brahmani River, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today said no such clearance is necessary for the construction as the proposed site is non-forest in nature.
"I understand that no forest clearance is necessary for construction of the said bridge as the proposed site is non-forest in nature. This has been confirmed in the letter of State Forest authorities," wrote Patnaik in reply to Gadkari.
"The Project Director of NHAI at Rourkela has also stated that the said land where 2nd bridge over Brahmani has to be constructed is non-forest," he added.
Patnaik stated there is no impediment for the NHAI to start the construction work even tomorrow and assured Gadkari that the State government will extend all support.
Moreover, NHAI Project Director of Project Implementation Unit, Rourkela, P Madhu in a letter to Bonai DFO had stated, "The status of land on which the bridge is proposed to be constructed over river Brahmani near Vedvyas (Rourkela) is non-forest."
Copies of the letter had also been forwarded to NHAI Bhubaneswar Regional Office and to Rourkela DFO, the letter stated.
Earlier in the day, Odisha Parliamentary Affairs Minister Bikram Keshari Arukh had also informed the State Assembly that forest clearance is not required for 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 Brahmani River. I request BJP not to mislead the people and should take steps to expedite the work,” Arukh said.
Gadkari in a letter to Patnaik had stated that delay in statutory approvals from Odisha Government including forest clearance and land acquisition has led to non-commencement of project on Birmitrapur-Barkote section of NH-143.
“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,” the letter read.
Gadkari in his letter assured to begin the work within seven days of necessary approvals.
Recalling his previous meeting with CM Naveen 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.
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 national highways in Odisha and work on 3,121 kms of road with an investment of Rs 22,011 crore (approx) is in progress in State.