Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Keonjhar, Sep 9:
Tension prevailed at the construction site of the controversial bridge over river Kusei at Belabahali in Odisha’s Keonjhar district today owing which police had to lob tear gas shells and fire rubber bullets at the protestors.
According to reports, the construction company had put up red flags at the site in the morning prior to the commencement of the work. However, it was opposed by the villagers who had been protesting the construction of the bridge.
An altercation ensued followed by a scuffle between them. Moments later, police arrived at the spot to pacify the irate villagers. However, the situation went out of control.
Following the chaotic situation, police had to resort to fire tear gas shells and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd.
Sources revealed that at least two policemen and five protestors were injured while wrestling out the furious villagers.
Meanwhile, police forces have been deployed at the site to prevent any law and order situation.
Notably, 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.
On July 7 last year, Belabahali villagers and police had come face to face on the demand for the relocation of the proposed bridge site resulting in over hundred villagers getting arrested and sent to jail.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) had intervened in the matter and had sought an action taken report from the state’s Director General of Police (DGP) regarding action taken against police officers over the injury of villagers at Belabahali where the latter was protesting against the construction of a bridge.
Yielding to the opposition of the villagers to the site of the bridge, the National Highway Authority of India (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.
The expert team in its report stated that the site and design of the proposed bridge was suitable and had recommended for going ahead with it.
This apart, a PIL was filed in the Orissa High court opposing the construction of the bridge.
The High Court, on August 30 this year, rejected the petition and refused to interfere in the decision of the Technical Committee over the construction of the bridge.