Road connectivity to cut-off Odisha villages still a distant dream

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government’s attempt to bring development to each and every corner of the state by linking cut-off villages through pucca motorable roads seems like a noticeable failure.

Consider the example of Pokhari Sahi village just a short distance away from Balasore town, where a pregnant woman delivered her baby while being transported on a cot a few days ago, after ambulance could not reach her due to lack of motorable road. Another glaring example is Maidanapadar village under Jharigaon block of Nabarangpur district which is suffering from all sorts of problems due to lack of a pucca road.

Two years ago, the State Government had implemented Upanta Scheme with an aim to reach out to as many as 142 unconnected villages in the first phase. However, confusion over the execution authority for the projects has resulted in unprecedented delays.

While the Panchayati Raj department has allocated Rs 50 crore for the project, the execution agency for the project is Rural Development department.Sources said the chief engineer of the RD departmenthas already written a letter in this regard and waiting for government’s green signal.

Jagannath Patel, Chief Engineer, Rural Works said “Earlier the scheme was decided to be implemented by Panchayati Raj department.However it was transferred to the RD department. But since its modalities are yet to be finalised, we have urged the government that if we are given the DPR then we can proceed with the project.”

Panchayati Raj minister Pradeep Maharathy has assured to hand over the project fund to the RD department and said that all district collectors have been informed in this regard.

Sources said out of the 142 road proposals, 69 have been considered as feasible while 46 have been declared as not feasible due to forest clearance issues. While 19 are being taken up under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, eight proposals are being implemented under District Mineral Fund and Mukhya Mantri Sadak Yojana.