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Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Keonjhar, Aug 17:

Construction of the controversial bridge over river Kusei at Belabahali under Anandpur subdivision in Odisha’s Keonjhar district will commence from tomorrow.

proposed belabahali bridge site

“Work on the bridge over river Kusei at Belabahali of Anandpur will begin tomorrow. Twenty platoons of policemen will be deployed at the bridge construction site to maintain law and order. Moreover, five magistrates will be present,” informed Keonjhar Collector N Tirumala Naik today.

Sources said construction which was supposed to begin today had to be postponed at the last minute as sufficient numbers of policemen were not available to contain possible law and order situation.

Security has been beefed up in the area since there had been incidents of violence earlier due to stiff resistance by the locals. Section 144 Cr PC has been clamped and an adequate number of policemen have been deployed.

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.