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Union Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari has refuted allegations of indifference on the part of Centre in executing the second bridge project over Brahmani river and held the Odisha government responsible for its delay.
In response to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik's letter on Monday, Gadkari said the state government was yet to issue forest clearance and initiate land acquisition process.
"I was surprised and pained to receive your letter and media reports suggesting the delay on the part of NHAI. I would like to clarify that the project got delayed for want of forest clearances and land," Gadkari wrote to Patnaik yesterday.
The CM on Monday had sought Gadkari's personal intervention to start work on the project near Rourkela. He also said that his government was ready to fund the construction work if need be.
Recalling his meeting with Patnaik in Delhi last month, Gadkari said, "I had raised this issue of inordinate delay in granting approvals by the forest department and the state government during the meeting. Major projects stretching 500 km and worth Rs 5000 crore have been held up in the state for want of land and clearances."
The Union Minister also stated that the Odisha government should appreciate the fact that he approved a six-lane bridge instead of a two-lane one as proposed by the state government, in view of the growing traffic and socio-economic importance of the route.
Gadkari said his ministry has been proactively taking up development of national highways in Odisha.
Road projects spanning 3,121 km is currently being undertaken in the state, he added.