The Telegraph. Aug 29, 2014
656-km road to link west & south
Bhubaneswar, Aug. 28: A 656-km road trip from Jagdalpur in Chhattisgarh to Rourkela — which at present takes 13 hours — will be reduced to six, once the Biju expressway is completed by 2019 end.
Launching the corridor project, chief minister Naveen Patnaik today said: “Now, it takes 13 hours to go from Jagdalpur to Rourkela, but after completion of this project, it will take just six hours.”
Naveen said: “The expressway will connect many border towns of west and south Odisha and also pass through one of the most backward regions of our state. It will immensely help boost the economy of west Odisha and the KBK districts.”
The corridor envisages an investment of Rs 3,200 crore and will connect eight districts. It will be the link between the west Odisha districts of Bargarh, Sambalpur, Jharsuguda and Sundargarh with four KBK districts — Koraput, Nabarangpur, Kalahandi and Nuapada. The roads will be developed in two phases. While the first phase will be over by May 2017, the second phase is expected to be over by 2019 end.
Of the 656-km roads, 51km will pass through Koraput district, 48km through Nabarangpur, 100km through Kalahandi, 120km through Nuapada, 141km through Bargarh, 54km through Sambalpur, 26km through Jharsuguda and 116km through Sundargarh district. In the first phase of this project, 254km will be converted into four lanes and 402km will be made a two-lane stretch. Out of this 402-km stretch, 250km will be made four-lane and the rest 144km will remain as two-lane.
The BJD, which is yet to establish its supremacy in the west and south Odisha even after 14 years in power, aims to reap benefits from the corridor. The expressway was launched two days before the Nuakhai festival, a famous festival of west Odisha and KBK region.
The ruling party is, therefore, leaving no stone unturned to perpetuate the legacy of the leader after whom the expressway is named.
Naveen, who has won four back-to-back elections invoking the Biju magic, is trying to make the most of this famous name. Though Naveen has bettered his father’s record as chief minister, he realises that the larger-than-life image of Biju babu still fires the imagination of the Odias.
Biju Patnaik, Naveen’s father, is credited with the establishment of Paradip port and the construction of the famous expressway to the port. The spree of naming schemes after Biju babu started after Naveen became chief minister of the state in 2000.
Reacting to this, leader of Opposition Narasingh Mishra said: “If we critically analyse various schemes announced by the state government in the past 14 years, we can easily conclude that it is much ado about nothing. Most of the projects, either fully funded by the state or centrally sponsored, have not taken off.”
Stating that using Biju Patnaik’s name in various schemes or projects amounts to disrespect to the legendary figure, Mishra said: “The present economic corridor will not be that helpful for socio-economic development of west Odisha, which has been neglected over the years. The area badly needs irrigation for development of agriculture, agriculture infrastructure such as cold storage, market and agro-based industries instead of such projects. Construction of roads may be necessary, but it should not be at the cost of agriculture and allied activities.”