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Odisha government accords consent to Rs 8,000 crore coastal highway project

The works department of the Odisha government has apprised the NHAI of its consent for the project, proposed under the Centre’s Bharatmala Pariyojana, the official said.

SNS | Bhubaneswar |

Remaining non-starter for six years over environment issues, the 382 KM long and Rs 8,000 crore worth coastal highway project is finally poised for takeoff with the State government agreeing to the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI)’s realignment of the proposed highway at strategic spots.

The works department of the State government has apprised the NHAI of its consent for the project, proposed under the Centre’s Bharatmala Pariyojana, the official said.

According to official sources, the first tender for laying a portion of the road is likely to be invited by March next.

“The highway will pass through Tangi (NH-16), Brahmagiri, Puri, Konark, Astarang, Naugaon, Paradip Port, Ratanpur, Satabhaya, Dhamra, Basudevpur, Talapada, Chandipur, Chandaneswar and Digha”, the State’s works department stated in a letter to NHAI chief general manager (technical).

“The Odisha government has accorded consent to the coastal highway. Now NHAI will seek different regulatory approvals mandatory for the project because of the fact that the highway will pass close to forest areas, rivers besides the Bay of Bengal coastline,” Ram Prasad Panda, Chief General Manager, NHAI.

Since 2015, the project had failed to make much headway over environmental issues. With the alignment issues resolved, the highway will now pass through Tangi (NH-16), Brahmagiri, Puri, Konark and many other places in Odisha. The length of the project has also been decreased to 382 km from 450 km. The highway will pass through Ganjam, Puri, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Bhadrak, Balasore districts besides connecting east Medinipur in West Bengal.

The realigned highway will not affect the ecology of Balukhand wildlife sanctuary, Bhitarkanika national park and the turtle nesting grounds. Earlier, the coastal highway was proposed from Gopalpur in Ganjam district to Satapada across Chilika Lake. Now, it will start from Tangi on NH-16 avoiding the Chilika Lake. Besides, adequate cross drainage structures would be put in place to allow passage.

The much-awaited coastal road would provide a boost to tourism and industrial activities in the region. It would also serve a highway linkage to all ports in the State, said officials.

The Rs 8,000 crore worth coastal highway project stretching from Gopalpur of Odisha to Digha of West Bengal will provide a facelift to infrastructure and economy to the State’s coastal region. The vehicular traffic load of National Highway-16 will considerably be reduced once the new coastal highway comes to completion.

The highway will emerge as an economic corridor for the transport of agricultural and pisciculture products to Paradip and Dhamra port. Besides, it would also act as a protective barrier for the vulnerable seaside villages from the onslaught of cyclones and floods.

The tourism infrastructure facelift in Bhitarkanika National Park and Gahirmatha marine sanctuary in Kendrapara district will receive a huge boost because of improved connectivity to the places. As the roads are realigned, it will not cause damage to vegetation and wildlife

Eco- tourism in Bhitarkanika is a major employment generator with an impact on the local economy. The coastal highway will lead to creation of employment avenues particularly for women and youths, fishermen, boat men and others. It will usher in socio-economic development of villages lying in the fringes of the National Park.