Sharmili Mallick

Khurda: The inordinate delay in the execution of a flyover at Sitaram Chhak in Jatni of Khurda district has irked the residents here.

Though the project was supposed to be commissioned by 2017, half of the construction works have not been completed so far, severely affecting the traffic in the town.

Residents alleged that if a vehicle gets stuck beneath the under-construction flyover, hundreds of vehicles get stranded on the road for several kilometres. Traffic jam has become a common issue on the route during peak hours.

The foundation stone of the flyover worth Rs 87 crore was laid in 2015 and the construction work was taken up by Panda Infra. However, following allegations of substandard work and large scale irregularities against the construction firm, Vigilance and Rourkela NIT had conducted a probe into the matter.

Subsequently, the project was taken back from Panda Infra and handed over to Biraja Construction. The latter is stated to have commenced the construction work of the project recently, but its development at snail's pace has now irked the locals so much that they have threatened to launch a massive protest in coming days if the project is not completed soon enough.

"The work of Jatni flyover simultaneously started with two bridges in Bhubaneswar. While the two bridges in the capital city are already functional now, the bridgework in this case here has not even reached halfway. If the bridge is not completed at the earliest, we will launch a massive protest," threatened a local, Bishnu Kumar Sahoo.

Another resident Padma Charan Pradhan alleged, "If a vehicle gets stuck under the bridge, it leads to traffic jam for around five kilometres. The concerned authorities should take steps to complete the piling and other works of the bridge soon."

Earlier, around 500 shops of traders near SitaramChhak area were evicted for the construction. After the work was handed over to Biraja Construction, the design of the project was changed and over 150 more shops are needed to be evicted for the completion of the flyover. However, the traders are reluctant to vacate the land alleging that many of their fellow traders are yet to get the compensation.

President of Sitaram Chhak Traders' Association, Ramesh Chandra Mahapatra stated, "The government had demolished around 587 shops for the construction of the bridge and no one has been compensated yet. Unless we get any reimbursement, we will not leave our land for the construction."

On the other hand, Jatni MLA Suresh Routray has demanded the concerned authorities to expedite the construction and complete the work within one year.

"The CM told us the flyover will be over within one year and if the project gets delayed further, be it Works Secretary, Executive Engineer, Junior Engineer, we will not leave anyone. And if anyone hinders the inauguration of the project within one year, that person will be buried under the debris of that bridge," a visibly livid Routray said.

OTV also tried to take the comments from the Works Department in connection with the delay in the flyover project, but the officials concerned refused to give a statement in front of the camera.