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2nd Brahmani Bridge Turns Political Bone Of Contention, BJD-BJP War Of Words Intensifies

06 December 2017

Soumya Ranjan Sahoo

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Bhubaneswar: It all appears that the allegedly inordinate delay in construction of the proposed and much-needed second bridge over river Brahmani, linking steel city Rourkela in Sundargarh parliamentary constituency, has turned to be a political bull fight between the sworn enemies BJD and BJP who respectively rule Odisha and the Centre respectively.

Even though the issue has been initially raised by Rourkela MLA (BJP) Dilip Ray, it is now an apple of discord between Odisha’s ruling BJD and BJP ruling the Centre as it had been a poll promise made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during after the 2014 general election campaign.

In response to BJD supremo-cum-Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s letter to Union Transport & Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari on Monday complaining against the inordinate delay and allowing Odisha Government to take up the construction work instead, Gadkari on Wednesday has dashed a letter passing buck on Odisha Government citing its inordinate delay in forest clearance and land acquisition.

The issue rocked Odisha Assembly on the day following which the Speaker had to adjourn the House proceedings in the pre-noon session due to din by the BJP members.

In defence, Odisha Forest & Parliamentary Affairs Minister Bikram Keshari Arukh argued, “Yesterday the BJP members during the Question Hour had complained that forest clearance is pending and land acquisition yet to be made. But for the bridge construction, there is no need for any land acquisition.”

“So far the NH-143 patch from Biramitrapur to Barkote is concerned, the 2nd Brahmani bridge will be built near Panposh and the place has no jungle and hence, there’s no need for forest clearance. DFO Rourkela has already intimated it to the NHAI authorities,” Arukh substantiated his argument.

He thus added, “I would, therefore, like to request the BJP members not to befool the people of Odisha on the issue. Rather the bridge construction should be started soon for the sake of Odisha’s interest. If they (BJP-led Centre) are unable to do so, State Government should be permitted soon to take up the bridge building work. Our dear Chief Minister has already announced to do so from State’s own funds. And, please stop this drama.”

On the contrary, BJP legislature party leader K.V. Singhdeo reacted, “Chief Minister had met personally Nitin Gadkari over the bridge issue on September 27. He (CM) should have intimated Gadkari then and there if there was no need for any forest clearance. What for this politicking now?”

In his reactions, senior Congressman and Leader of Opposition Narasingha Mishra remarked, “The Minister today said there is no need for forest clearance to build the bridge as there is no jungle. BJP leader said forest clearance is required and State Government is not clearing it. Hence in the House, both statements are opposed to each other. Two can’t be true. Any one of them is telling a lie and misleading the House.”

“That’s why I requested the Speaker to refer the matter to Privilege Committee. Let a special Privilege Committee be constituted and submit report after enquiring into it within 15 days. It can reveal who is telling lie and misleading the House. Speaker has reserved his ruling.”

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Bikram Keshari Arukh, Minister, Forest & Parliamentary Affairs, Odisha

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K.V. Singhdeo, BJP Legislature Party Leader, Odisha

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Narasingha Mishra, Leader of Opposition, Odisha