Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, Aug 28:
A day ahead of Nuakhai, the major socio cultural festival in western Odisha, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today inaugurated the 656-km long Biju Expressway project which would connect Jagdalpur in neighbpuring Chhattisgarh with Rourkela in Sundargarh district of Odisha.
The proposed expressway would cover four districts of Koraput, Nabarangpur, Kalahandi and Nuapada in the the KBK (Koraput-Bolangir-Kalahandi) region and four districts in western Odisha, namely Bargarh, Sambalpur, Jharsugida and Sundargarh.
The project, estimated to cost Rs 3, 200 crores, would be implemented in two phases. In the first phase, to be completed by May, 2017 at a cost of Rs 1, 471 crores, 254 kms of the road would be converted to four-lane and 402 km would be made two-lane.
The second phase, to be completed in 2019 at a cost of Rs 1, 729 crores, would see 258 kms more converted to four-lane.
Speaking on the occasion, the Chief Minister said the project would usher in an era of ‘development, progress, peace and harmony’.
Seeking to package the project as a Nuakhai gift to the people of western Odisha, Patnaik said; “Biju Express will be immensely helpful in boosting the economy of western Odisha and KBK districts. This massive connectivity will help boost agriculture, trade and commerce and social sector development. It will also support out initiative mainstreaming socially and economically backward people.”
It is to be noted that Biju Janata Dal (BJD), in its manifesto for the last election, had promised to upgrade all major two-lane roads in the KBK region to four lane in five years and an expressway connecting northern and southern Odisha running through the backward regions of western and KBK districts.
The first council of ministers, which had met on May 21, had resolved to approve the BJD manifesto in principle and to make all-out efforts to implement the promises made in the manifesto in a phased manner following due processes of government