Odisha Coastal Highway on the Right Track

Bhubaneswar : The feasibility survey report of the ambitious highway project along Odisha’s breathtaking coastline, which is poised to give the road connectivity infrastructure a massive push, is likely to be completed next month.

“The feasibility report would be followed by technical study. We do not want to leave no stone unturned as we are covering each and every aspect of the project. Things are on the right track and feasibility report that would cover among other thing the geo-technical scientific study would be ready by April end”, Regional Officer, National Highway Authority of India, Odisha, D Sarangi told this portal.

The proposed highway, which would lead to excellent and hassle-free road connectivity with the existing major ports and upcoming non-major ports, has generated much excitement in Odisha’s coastal pockets with people pinning the fond hope that the massive project would be of immense benefit for varied fields.

“We are excited. Our district is bereft of industrial and rail infrastructure. The highway would definitely be of benefit to us more than other coastal districts. If everything goes the right way, tourism would emerge as a viable sector to generate employment opportunities for people of Kendrapara district”, remarked a resident of far-flung Batighar, Mr. Ramen Mandal.

The proposed 450 KM highway to be stretched from Gopalpur in Ganjam district to Digha of West Bengal is conservatively assessed at Rs 4,500 crore worth.

Feasibility survey of the highway is in full swing at present. The findings of the survey are expected to be completed by April 2017. Once survey of the proposed coastal highway is completed, there will be another technical study after which the Detailed Project Report (DPR) would be worked out. The findings will be shared with people’s representatives of the areas, local people besides senior officials in respective areas so that the road alignment process is meticulously done for locals’ larger interest, said Regional Officer, NHAI, Odisha, Mr. Sarangi.

In the topographic survey, the thickly populated areas have been identified and the corridor will be developed by avoiding these areas wherever possible.

The feasibility survey constitutes the vital component of the project. We are in no mood to complete in a hurry. Two consultant farms having expertise in such work are doing the survey with utmost care, the senior NHAI official told this web portal.

The feasibility survey is examining among other things the topographic, vehicular traffic load and geo-technical aspects of the coastal highway. As the highway would traverse through wetlands, waterlogged areas, the soil condition of the land is being scientifically tested under geo-technical study, the official said.

The construction of Odisha’s longest bridge over Chilka is one of the major highlight of the project. The proposed bridge at Satapada-Chilka would be 2.9 Km long and it will surpass Mahanadi river bridge on the fringe of Cuttack city, which happens to be Odisha’s longest river bridge at present.

Over 75% areas through which the highway would pass are on the close vicinity of Greenfield areas. That includes Ramsar wetland sites of Bhitarkanika and Chilka in Kendrapara and Khurda districts. The feasibility surveyors are laying emphasis on aligning the road in a such way that the eco-sensitive zones are least affected by the coastal highway project, informed NHAI regional officer (Orissa) Mr. Sarangi.

The highway along the highway is a viable concept to bolster economy in coastal pockets. It will pave the way for alternative economic opportunities to people in the areas. The proposed highway would connect several existing and upcoming ports, including Gopalpur, Astarang, Paradip, Kirtania and Chandipur. With the completion of the highway, the road distance with neighbouring West Bengal state would be sizeably dropped down.

The project is destined to open floodgates for tourism avenues along the seaside patches the Bay of Bengal. With the tapping of tourism avenues, people of Jagatsingpur, Kendrapara and Bhadrak would be major benefactors. While Puri, Konarak, Bhubaneswar and Chilka draw maximum number of domestic and overseas tourists, the highway projects is certain to unlock prospects of tourist spots, according to tourists’ operators.

These apart, highway is likely to play vital role in handling rescue and relief operations aftermath of natural disaster. The coastal pockets often bear the brunt of cyclone and tidal surge and October-29-30 super-cyclone was a classic case in point.