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Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Anandpur, Jun 19:

It’s final; the controversial Belabahali bridge over river Kusei on the national highway no. 215 in Odisha’s Keonjhar district will be constructed at the earlier identified site.

Pic Courtesy: www.newindianexpress.com
Pic Courtesy: www.newindianexpress.com

The National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) has informed the Keonjhar district collector through a letter in this regard, revealed sources.

The NHAI has requested the district collector to provide police protection to the contractor engaged in the construction of the bridge, the sources further revealed.

Belabahali villagers have been on an agitation for around a year opposing the proposed bridge over river Kusei on the national highway no. 215 in Anandpur subdivision.

Notably, on July 7, last year Belabahali villagers and police had come face to face over the demand for the relocation of the proposed bridge site resulting in over hundred villagers getting arrested and sent to jail.

Also read: Odisha villagers clash with cops; 12 hurt on either side

Also read: Belabahali remains tense; villagers firm on demand

The National Human Rights Commission had intervened in the matter and had sought an action taken report from the state’s Director General of Police regarding action taken against police officers over the injury of villagers at Belabahali in Keonjhar district where the latter was protesting against the construction of a bridge.

Also read: BJP flays Odisha govt for Belabahali police crackdown

Also read: Odisha BJP moves OHRC on Belabahali police excesses

Yielding to the opposition of the villagers to the site of the bridge, the NHAI had appointed an expert team comprising of experts from IIT Kharagpur and former Works department secretary G C Mitra to re-examine the location of the proposed bridge and its design.

Also read: Odisha Cong leader wants Gadkari to help resolve Keonjhar bridge row

The expert team in its report is learned to have stated that the site and design of the proposed bridge were suitable and have recommended for going ahead with it.

Also read: Belabahali clash: Odisha court grants bail to 63 women

The development has led to severe resentment among the villagers.

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