Bhubaneswar, July 26 (IANS) Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Thursday dedicated the much-awaited Gurupriya bridge — which connects 151 villages across the Balimela reservoir with the rest of Malkangiri district — to the people.
The government hopes that the bridge will end decades of isolation that helped Maoists retain their bastion in the region.
The Chief Minister also announced a Rs 100 crore package for the development of the area.
The 910-metre long bridge will resolve the communication problems for around 30,000 people of nearly 151 villages in eight gram panchayats in the cut-off regions in and around Kalimela and Chitrakonda reservoirs.
“The term cut-off is history from this historic day. With renewed esteem, they will now be Swabhiman Areas,” Patnaik said.
“Gurupriya Setu signifies a resurgent Odisha. It will transform lives in 151 villages that were cut-off for five decades. It is not just a bridge, it will be the identity and Swabhiman of Malkangiri. I dedicate this special project to the people of Odisha and India,” he tweeted.
“It is a testimony to our commitment to integrate all parts of Odisha with the mainland and thereby to prosperity. It is our dream come true,” he added.
He also paid homage to the people who sacrificed their lives for the bridge.
“My homage to those martyred for the bridge. Peace is of utmost importance for progress. Gurupriya Setu is a harbinger of peace. I appeal to left wing extremists in the region to forsake violence and embrace progress that the bridge brings to the region,” said Patnaik.
The bridge has been built at an estimated cost of Rs 187.25 crore.
The foundation stone of the bridge was laid by Naveen Patnaik in 2000. However, Maoists were opposing the construction of the bridge, delaying the project. Besides, its contractors were changed many times.