Naveen Clears Forest Block


The issue of forest clearance raised in your letter dated 5 December , 2017 is not related to the construction of the bridge. I understand that no forest clearance is necessary for construction of the said bridge as the proposed site is non-forest in nature. This has been confirmed in the letter of State Forest authorities (copy enclosed),” the Chief Minister informed Mr.Gadkari stating further that the Project Director of NHAI at Rourkela has also clarified that the above land where 2nd bridge over Brahmani has to be constructed is non-forest.

Chief Minister said that, there is no impediment for the NHAI to start the construction work even tomorrow.

“I assure you to extend all support of the State Government in NHAI works,” he said.

Earlier, the State Legislative Assembly  had today witnessed three consecutive adjournments over the letter of Mr.Gadkari to the Chief Minister on the issue.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Bikram Keshari  Arukha said in State Legislative Assembly that work of the bridge, whose foundation stone was laid by Union Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari, is yet to start "even after months".

Referring to a letter of the Union minister to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today on the issue, the Minister said that Union Minister has cited issues related to forest clearance and land acquisition as reasons behind the delay in beginning of the construction work, Mr.Arukha said.

"However, I want to inform the House that there is no requirement of forest clearance for construction of the bridge as it is not located in any forest area. This apart, there is also no delay in land acquisition issue related to bridge construction," he said.

State BJP leader K V Singh Deo denied Mr.Arukha's claim and said work is delayed due to the forest clearance and land acquisition-related issues.

The State Government has not been cooperating in the bridge construction and therefore, the delay, Mr.Singh Deo alleged.

As the ruling BJD and Opposition BJP members debated on this, Congress members rushed to well of the House and demanded referring the matter to the Privilege Committee.

Later, the BJP, too, joined in the demand for the referral. Unable to run the proceeding, Speaker Pradip Kumar Amat adjourned the House thrice.

Normalcy, however, returned after Mr.Amat said he would give a ruling on the matter by the end of today's proceedings.

The Union Minister had 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, Mr.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," Mr.Gadkari wrote to Mr.Patnaik on 5 December.

The Chief Minister on Monday had sought Mr.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 the Chief Minister Mr.Patnaik in New Delhi last month, Mr.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.

Mr.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.

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