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Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today requested Union Minister Nitin Gadkari to direct NHAI to immediately take up construction of a bridge over Brahmani river near Rourkela or allow the state government to build it with its own resources. "I request your personal intervention to direct the NHAI for immediately taking up the construction of the 2nd bridge over Brahmani river near Panposh on NH-143 or alternatively, allow the state government to construct the six-lane bridge as a stand-alone project in the larger public interest," Patnaik wrote to the Union Road Transport, Highways Minister. Letter to Gadkari was written barely hours after Patnaik assured a delegation that he would take up the matter with the Central government. "If they (Centre) are not serious about the project, the state government will construct the bridge from its own resources," Patnaik had told the delegation led by senior BJD leader and MLA Mangala Kissan. Patnaik in the letter stated that the unusual delay in commencement of the bridge work may result in a "disaster". The chief minister mentioned that he had earlier written two letters to Gadkari for starting the bridge work as a large number of people in the region depend on it. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during a public meeting in Rourkela in April 2015, had announced a second bridge over the river but work has not begun in that direction so far. Hundreds of BJD youth activists staged a demonstration in Rourkela yesterday to protest against the delay in the project. BJD leader and former minister Sarada Nayak pointed out that Union Minister Nitin Gadkari had also laid the foundation stone for the project during his visit to the state in July and assured the people that work would begin within 15 days. "Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced the construction of a second bridge in 2015 and Union Minister Nitin Gadkari laid the foundation stone in July this year.
But four months have passed and work has not started yet," Nayak said. Echoing similar sentiments, BJP MLA Dilip Ray, who led several agitations in the past two years for the cause, also expressed his displeasure over the matter today. "The bridge was announced by the PM two years ago but the National Highway Authority of India has shown no interest in implementing the project," he said. Union Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram, however, called Patnaik's announcement a "political gimmick" and said the government was serious about the project. "Patnaik's announcement about the bridge today was nothing more than a political gimmick. The Union government has already initiated paperwork on the project and construction will begin soon," he added.
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