Protests prompt dist admin to halt Belbahali bridge work
Keonjhar: The district administration has decided to halt the construction work of Belbahali bridge under Anandpur sub-division for two days as protest by the locals intensified on Monday. Keonjhar Collector N Tirumala Nayak informed this to media after consulting with other government senior officials.
“There will be no construction work on the river for two days. We hope the situation will return to normal in the days to come,” Nayak said.
Official sources said the district administration is convening a high-level meeting tomorrow to decide about the future course of action. Leaders of at least 10 nearby villages had gathered near the construction site today and decided not to allow the construction firm to continue the work.
Tension ran high at Belbahali on Friday night and Saturday when locals pelted stones at police force, protesting construction of the bridge over river Kusei on NH-215. Even as locals have been protesting the proposed bridge for the last two years claiming that its construction would lead to flooding of the area, the construction firm – Gayatri Projects – began work on the project on Friday afternoon amidst police deployment. On Saturday morning, villagers gathered at the site and pelted stones at the cops following which, the latter had to use teargas to disperse the mob.
Four villagers and two policemen were injured in the incident.
Earlier, a petition filed by the villagers to change the construction site was also rejected by the High Court and the court directed the construction firm to go ahead with the work.