Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Puri, Feb 18:
Taking into account the tardy progress in the construction of bridges and approach roads of the Puri-Bhubaneswar national highway – the vital link between Odisha’s capital city and the pilgrim town – for the grand Nabakalebar Yatra of Lord Jagannath, it’s now certain that work on the road will go beyond its stipulated deadline of March.
During a review meeting in January on preparations for the Nabakalebar Yatra, the chief secretary had stated that these bridges would be completed by the end of February.
But with only ten days left in the month, work on the project is unlikely to be completed by March given the pace of the work.
The inflow of devotees and tourists is expected to start well before the Banajaga Yatra, considered as the opening chapter of the Nabakalebar Yatra, scheduled on March 29 as per the itinerary of the Nabakalebar Yatra announced by the state government recently.
Keeping this in mind, efforts were on since the last three years to make the Puri-Bhubaneswar national highway fully functional by the end of this month.
Four laning work on a 18-km stretch on the Puri-Bhubaneswar national highway remains to be completed. It includes the 12 km stretch from Biraharekrushnapur to Sterling Resorts, 6 km approach road to under-bridge at Satyabadi Square and the approach road to the over-bridge at Samjajpur.
Apart from the approach roads, finishing work of the bridges also remains to be completed, thus leading to apprehensions over completion of the four laning work on the Puri-Bhubaneswar national highway undertaken at a cost of at least Rs 550 crore on schedule.
Progress has been tardy in the construction of three bridges on this national highway. Shortage of sand and morrum is stated to be one of the reasons for the slow progress in the construction. With the current pace of work, it seems next to impossible that these bridges will be completed before the Banajaga Yatra, said people in the know.
Without completion of over-bridge at Pipili bypass, under-bridge at Satyabadi, over-bridge at Samjajpur and side bridges at Malatipatapur, the national highway cannot be said to be complete, they said.
Efforts are on to complete work on the Puri-Bhubaneswar national highway before the start of the Banajaga Yatra.