Coastal Highway Project: Odisha turns down NHAI proposal, Dharmendra criticises move

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government today turned down the existing proposal of the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) in regard to the Coastal Highway project while requesting the NHAI to come up with a fresh proposal. The decision was taken at a high-level meeting chaired by Chief Secretary, officials of Works department and the NHAI at the Secretariat today.

Soon after the meeting, Works Secretary Nalini Kanta Pradhan said, “The NHAI had proposed coastal highway on existing Satapada-Puri route but it wasn’t approved. We suggested them (NHAI) to come up with another proposal by making realignment towards the coastline after which approvals will be processed.”

“We also suggested that the Konark-Astaranga coastal highway should be aligned closer to the coast as far as possible to give people a feeling of the coastline,” Pradhan said.

The Works secretary further informed that the government has planned to come up with two bridges over Chilika Lake. “Two new signature bridges will come up on Chilika Lake without hampering the habitat of dolphins and other animals,” he added.

Criticising the statements of the Works Secretary on the coastal highway project, Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said that the Works Secretary is inclined towards politics nowadays. He further alleged that Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik and Works Secretary are purposely delaying the project. “They (state government) have been saying the same thing time and again from 2015-16, 2018 and in 2019. It’s a plan of the government, and Odisha CM and Works secretary are purposely delaying the Coastal Highway project.”

Meanwhile, reacting to Dharmendra Pradhan’s allegations, BJD general secretary Sanjay Das Burma said, “The old roads are being widened and given the name of coastal highway. And the Union Minister is commenting without examining the facts.”