BHUBANESWAR: Even nine months after launching of the Rs 3,200 crore Biju Expressway aimed at connecting the four districts of Odisha, including Bargarh, Sambalpur, Jharsuguda, and Sundargarh, with four KBK (Kalahandi-Balangir-Koraput) districts namely Koraput, Nabarangpur, Kalahandi and Nuapada, preliminary work is yet to be started. The project has assumed significance in view of the increasing Maoist activities in neighbouring Chhattisgarh.
Official sources said that as field survey and identification of projects already awarded on the same route are yet to be completed, preliminary work on the 656 km long Expressway project is yet to be started.
The programme was launched with much fanfare by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in August last year. However, only a token Rs 30 crore has been provided for the project in the 2015-16 budget. The project was an election promise of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD).
Though the Expressway project is 656-km long, widening of road is already going on in the same route on 234 km stretch by various departments, out of 254 km identified for the first phase expansion.
L&T has undertaken four-laning of road from Rourkela to Sambalpur (160 km) through public-private partnership (PPP) mode and work for four-laning of Sambalpur to Sohella road via Bargarh (74 km) is being funded by the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.
In the first phase, 254 km of the corridor would be converted into four lanes and the rest 402 km widened to two lanes at a cost of Rs 1,471 crore. In the second phase, 258 km would be made four lanes at a cost of Rs 1,729 crore.
Official sources said that the first phase of the project is expected to be completed by May 2017 while the second phase is scheduled to be completed by May, 2020.
Both the State and the Centre would bear the cost of the project, estimated at Rs 3,200 crore. For the Rourkela-Sambalpur road widening project, the State Government will spend Rs 256 crore. However, in the changed scenario arising out of the cut in Central assistance for different projects, the project has remained uncertain.
The corridor is aimed at connecting border towns like Chandli, Boriguma, Nabarangpur, Papadahandi, Ambapani, Dharmagarh, Sinapali, Nuapada, Paikamal, Padampur, Sohella, Bargarh, Sambalpur, Jharsuguda, Sundagarah and Rourkela.