Kendrapara, March 17 (LocalWire): Harekrushna Mallick (70) of Pitapitha village clearly remembers when the then chief minister Biju Patnaik had promised at an election rally in 1990 to build a bridge over Mahanadi to ease the locals’ daily hassle of crossing the river by boats.
Addressing a gathering at Mahakalapada, Patnaik had promised to construct a river bridge connecting Bahakuda Ghat with the port town of Paradip in Jagatsinghpur district.
Thirty years later, the people of Pitapitha village are still waiting for the bridge.
“It gives us so much pain and anger to thing that Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has failed to fulfill his father’s promise. We don’t know now when it will be constructed,” said Harekrushna.
Even during last polls five years back, Mahakalapada MLA Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak had promised to build the bridge. But construction never started.
“Seven small boats are in a way deciding the fate of the villagers, as each day, they twice take the risk of crossing the river to reach Paradip,” said Arabinda Haldar of Kharinashi village who works in a fertilizer plant in Paradip.
“Since 1990s, the government has been hoodwinking us by giving false promises to build a bridge. Thirteen members of a village cricket team in Nuagada had drowned in the river in 2004 while they were going to Mahakalapada to play a match.
“After this mishap, the authorities and local leaders had promised to build a bridge. But they failed,” said Bijay Das (45), a villager from Pitapitha.
Also, a 400-meter long bridge over Baitarani river at Kandia under Rajkanika block has been under construction for past seven years. Now the incomplete bridge is a major poll issue now.
“Due to non-construction of the bridge, a large number of villagers of both sides of the river have been facing problems,” said Bhagabat Sahoo of Kandiahat.
In the upcoming poll, they will not vote for BJD as they failed to build the bridge,” said Narendra Das of Kandiahat.
A 100-meter bridge being built over Hansua river at the seaside village of Tantiapala under Mahakalapada block is also at the centre of major political war between BJP and Congress.
The construction work is yet to complete after five years due to lackadaisical attitude of officials.
“In March 2014, the 35-year-old Bailey bridge at Tantiapala village collapsed, and as a result, some 25 villages with a population of around 40,000 were cut off from the main land.
At that time, the authorities had announced to rebuild it within a year. They missed the deadline and now people have decided to teach BJD a lesson in the polls. The construction should not take more than a year,” said Pramila Sethi of Tantiapala.
However, Dhiren Kumar Sahoo, a senior BJD leader and chairman of Kendrapara municipality, “The state government has constructed around 65 bridges within 20 years in the district and other incomplete bridges will be completed soon. Voters will vote for BJD as the state government did many good works for the people,”