Future Of Proposed Coastal Highway Project In Odisha Hangs In Balance

Bhubaneswar: The fate of coastal highway project at a cost of Rs 7,500 crore proposed by the Centre earlier this year seems to be hanging in balance.

As per reports, the expert appraisal committee of Union Ministry of Environment and Forests has rejected the project citing that the proposed route passes through multiple eco-sensitive zones including Bhitarkanika, Balukhand and Chilika Wildlife Sanctuaries. A meeting regarding the same was held in January this year.

The committee has also suggested setting up the project in a place away from the proposed site. However, there is no confirmation on the National Highway Authority of India’s (NHAI) alternate proposal.

While the State government claims to have informed the Centre to change the route of the project, Odisha Public Works Department Minister Prafulla Mallick says that Centre is yet to reply on the matter.

“We had written to the central government urging to change the route of the project, but we have not received any response,” said Mallick.

The proposal included road construction work on a stretch of 415 km between Gopalpur and Digha including 252 km from Gopalpur to Ratanpur through Satpada and 163 km from Satpada to Digha.

While BJP has blamed the State government for zero progress on the project, Congress has alleged negligence by both the Centre and State.

“The ruling party of Odisha doesn’t want development of State but only wants its own expansion,” BJP spokesperson Golak Mohapatra said.

Senior Congress leader Jaydev Jena said, “Both BJP and BJD are not in a mood to complete the project which is why it doesn’t like it will ever get completed.”