Bhubaneswar: The fight between the state and Centre over the construction of a second bridge over the Brahmani River intensified Wednesday after Union Transport and Highways minister Nitin Gadkari held the state responsible for the delay in executing the project while Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik made it clear that there is no delay on the state’s part and that NHAI can take up the work immediately if it is ready.
Responding to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s letter Monday, Gadkari said the state has not given forest clearance and has not started the land acquisition process.
“I was surprised by your letter and media reports holding NHAI responsible for the delay. I would like to clarify that the project got delayed for want of forest clearances and land,” Gadkari wrote to Patnaik Tuesday.
The CM Monday had sought Gadkari’s personal intervention to start the project near Rourkela. He also said his government was ready to fund the project if need be.
Recalling his meeting with Patnaik in Delhi last month, Gadkari in his letter said, “I had raised the inordinate delay in granting approvals by the forest department and the state government during the meeting. Major road projects stretching 500 km costing worth `5,000 crore have been held up in the state for want of land and clearances.”
The Union Minister also said the Orissa government should appreciate the fact that he approved a six-lane bridge instead of the two-lane one proposed by the state in view of the growing traffic and importance of the route.
Gadkari said his ministry had been proactively taking up the development of National Highways in Orissa and road projects spanning 3,121 km is currently being undertaken in the state.
The state government, however, reacted to it strongly and rejected the allegation of Gadkari about forest clearance for the project.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Bikram Keshari Arukh informed the Assembly Wednesday that forest clearance is not required for the construction of a bridge over the Brahmani in Rourkela.
“There is no forest near the bridge site. Rourkela DFO has already apprised authorities on the matter. Moreover, land acquisition is also not required for constructing the bridge. I request the BJP not to mislead the people and to speed up the work,” the Parliamentary Affairs Minister said.