Dilip Kumar

Bhubaneswar: The fresh alignment of Gopalpur-Digha coastal highway that already ran into a controversy has triggered a political bickering in Odisha once again with BJD and BJP blaming each other over the development.

The BJD has flayed the Centre’s new decision saying that it would go against the interest of Odisha. While quoting Union Minister Nitin Gadkari’s clarification on the new alignment of the highway, party leader and Deputy Chairman of State Planning Board- Sanjay Das Burma claimed that the length of the proposed highway has been reduced from 430km to 382km.

“What I suspected earlier has proved true now when Union Minister Nitin Gadkari replied to an unstarred question on February 8 in Rajya Sabha that the length of coastal highway connecting Gopalpur to Digha has been reduced from 430km to 382km. The minister informed the House that the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) of the Ministry of Environment approved the new alignment which indicates that the proposed coastal highway will now start from Tangi in Khurda instead of Satpada,” Dasburma said.

He demanded that the highway should be built as per the original alignment.

"I appeal to the leaders cutting across party lines to come forward collectively without making it a political issue. Coastal highway will herald a new era in the field of tourism, business and communication in Odisha. So, it should be constructed as per the original alignment," he added.

Earlier, the Union Minister had also discussed the matter with the Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. “I wonder how the Centre can change the alignment even after a thorough discussion with CM. If the construction is made as per the fresh decision, it would go against the interest of the State," he added.

On the other hand, State BJP general secretary Lekhashree Smantsinghar rubbished BJD’s claim, saying that the regional party is habituated in blaming the Centre without substantiating with appropriate facts and figures.

"Initially, it was proposed that the coastal highway connecting Digha- Goapalpur would cover a distance of 430 km. However, the length of the highway was fixed at 370 km in the later phase following detailed environmental assessment and discussion with the State government and other stakeholders. But, the Centre reviewed the decision and again changed the alignment increasing the length to 382 km which means the total length of the proposed highway increased by 12 km more," she said.

The Central government is always in favour of the interests of Odisha in every aspect. The BJD should refrain from doing politics in every matter, she added.