Amidst the blame game between the BJD and BJP over non-implementation of the Coastal Highway project in the state, Odisha government Wednesday asked the NHAI to re-draw certain alignments of the proposed 415-km project in the state. Odisha chief secretary A P Padhi told the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) officials at a review meeting that the basic purpose of the coastal highway is defeated with the present road alignments, state government officials said.
The Rs 7,500 crore coastal highway is an ambitious project of the Centre and is aimed to develop economic and tourism activities in the state. However, the present alignment is not serving the purpose as the proposed coastal highway would be located away from the coast and tourism points. "We have told the NHAI to specifically realign the road between Satpada near Chilika lake and Puri. This 50 km stretch is important from the tourism point of view. The present alignment is made on the existing road which may not serve the purpose," Odisha Works secretary, N K Pradhan said.
He said the coastal highway should be built in such a manner so that the people can feel the coast while standing on the road. The proposed coastal highway at many places is located at about 10 km from the coast. The officials Wednesday discussed alignment of roads on Puri- Konark marine drive, the proposed port at Astaranga, Jambu forest area, Bhitarkanika reserve forest, Satapada and bridge over Chilika lake.
The works secretary said two signature bridges will be constructed above Chilika lake without affecting the ecology of the lagoon. This apart, the chief secretary has also suggested to the NHAI to preserve the coastal character of the proposed coastal highway which will provide a boost to tourism and industrial activities in the region.
The proposed coastal highway road should connect places like Ratanpur, Satapada, Konark, Astranga, Chilika, Satabhaya, Dhamara, Basudevpur, Talasari, Chandipur, Chandaneswar in Odisha and Digha beach in West Bengal. Both the ruling BJD and opposition BJP in Odisha have blamed each other for non-implementation of the coastal highway project.
While BJD accused the Centre for not-implementing the project in letter and spirit, the BJP held the state government "responsible for not cooperating" with the NHAI. The BJP also alleged that the state government was not helping in land acquisition for the project.