Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jul 10:
Senior Congress leader Niranjan Patnaik today sought Union Minister for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari’s intervention to resolve the dispute over the proposed bridge over river Kusei near Belabahali village under Anandpur block sub-division of Odisha’s Keonjhar district.
“Police have arrested many innocent villagers and registered false cases against them. A majority of the women had been to river side for bathing early in the morning when they were arrested by police. This type of incident has never happened in the history of Keonjhar,” Niranjan Patnaik wrote in his letter to the Union minister.
Notably, the proposed construction of the bridge is part of the National Highway 215 four-laning project.
“It cannot be said that all the bridges constructed across the country are technically flawless. A few days ago, the villagers had staged a protest and road blockade against the proposed bridge. The district administration had assured them that their demands will be met and the decision in this regard will be communicated to them. However, the administration resumed the construction without taking the villagers into confidence, which paved the way for further agitation,” he added.
The villagers are resolute not to allow construction of the bridge at the present site and insist that the bridge be constructed alongside the old bridge instead of on the bypass.
“There is still scope for an amicable solution to the problem. Efforts should begin at political and administrative level to restore peace in the village. As he is the concerned minister, he should intervene in this,” Patnaik urged.
Besides, he urged the minister to ask police not to implicate innocent villagers. Notably, over 100 villagers have been sent to jail in connection with the incident.
Meanwhile, a delegation of Congress leaders today visited Belabahali village and talked to the agiating villagers in a bid to find a way out of the impasse.
Among those who were part of the delegation were PCC President Prasad Harichandan, Leader of Opposition Narasingah Mishra, former CPC chief Jayadev Jena and senior leader Ananta Sethi.