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Finally, Odisha government gives its nod to the Centre’s coastal highway project…

Bhubaneswar, 5/12:  The proposal for construction of 451 km Digha-Gopalpur highway under the Bharatmala project moved a step forward with the Odisha government giving its nod. As a result, the tug of war between the state government and the Centre has come to an end.

However, the opposition parties blamed the state government for the delay in the execution of the inter-state project. “The project would have proceeded much but for the hindrance caused by the Odisha government”, said they.

Official sources said the difference over the construction of the coastal highway between Satpada and Digha was resolved recently. The state government has asked the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) to seek the clearances of various related departments. The estimated cost of the 240.12 km long Sartapada-Digha highway is Rs 2196.49 crore.

Significantly, the state government has agreed to the proposed route between Satpada and Digha as per the plan prepared by the NHAI.

Similarly, the state government will convene a meeting to resolve the difference on the construction of Satpada-Gopapur portion of the proposed highway and the construction of the proposed bridge over eco-sensitive Chilka lake.

Earlier, the state government had been demanding to build the proposed highway along the Odisha coast.  However, NHAI was opposed to it citing various departmental objections and the cost escalation. However, the state government has now agreed with the NHAI.

The Central government had announced the 451 km coastal highway project under its Bharatmala scheme on the eve of the last general election. However, the state government had been raising objections and demanding modification in the design. Now it has now relented.

The opposition parties have now criticised the state government for giving its nod to the NHAI proposal.” Had the state government given nod, the project would have advanced much ahead. But it became the stumbling block to the state government deliberately on political considerations, ” said BJP leaders.

 Congress accused the ruling BJD of surrendering before the BJP-ruled Centre. “It was earlier raising objections without weighing the pros and cons. Now it is agreeing blindly to the Centre’s proposal under pressure”, said its leaders.

The BJD on the other hand said it had given its nod after examining various aspects. Official sources said NHAI would apply through the state for obtaining Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) clearance, environment and forest clearance and permission for land acquisition.

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