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Maoist retreat paves way for road boom in remote Odisha

Author: Satyanarayan Pattnaik
Publication: The Times of India
Date: October 3, 2018
URL:      https://m.timesofindia.com/india/maoist-retreat-paves-way-for-road-boom-in-remote-odisha/amp_articleshow/66046709.cms?__twitter_impression=true

HIGHLIGHTS

- With extensive combing leading to a decline in Maoist activities, the Rayagada administration has decided to build 618km of roads in current fiscal

- The new roads will replace those made of mud, and will solve the connectivity problem in the district

Krushna Miniaka, a resident of Pipli in the Maoist-affected Bissamkatak block of Rayagada district in Odisha, finds it hard to travel to the block or district headquarters as his village lacks an all-weather road.

He also lives in perpetual fear of medical emergencies as ambulances refuse to negotiate the narrow dirt road to Pipli.

All this is about to change, as Miniaka’s village will soon get a road. It is now being built at a cost of Rs 2 crore.

Pipli is not the only beneficiary of the road boom in Rayagada.

With extensive combing leading to a decline in Maoist activities, the administration has decided to build 618km of roads under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana in the current fiscal. The target is significant because since the launch of PMGSY in 2000, the district has constructed only 1,863km of roads at an average of 100km every year.

Of the 11 blocks in the district, seven were classified as Maoist-hit. On April 28, Maoists set fire to vehicles used for laying roads under PMGSY at Lakhpadar under Kalyansinghpur block.

With the work now progressing at a steady pace, new roads in the district will replace those made of mud, and will solve the connectivity problem.

Rayagada’s hilly terrain and lack of a proper road network connecting the block and district headquarters had made it difficult for the administration to reach its remote corners.

“Areas where the road network is virtually non-existent will benefit from the new roads. To ensure that welfare schemes reach the tribal populations in the interiors, we decided to strengthen the road network on a mission mode,” said collector Guha Poonam Tapas Kumar.

Officials of the district’s rural works department said construction of 618km of rural roads would cost Rs 300 crore. “Nearly 200 villages of the district will get connected with all-weather roads by March 2019,” said Pradeep Chandra Mandal, executive engineer of the rural works department in Rayagada.

“Officials have not faced any resistance from the rebels (Maoists). We have completed laying around 80km of roads. These will be opened for public traffic in the next few weeks,” Mandal added.

Local residents, too, are hopeful that better connectivity would bring development to their doorstep and strengthen their economic condition. “Due to bad roads, government officials, including health staff, do not visit remote areas of the district. We are happy that we will get new roads soon,” said Miniaka.

“Without a motorable road, it is difficult to take patients to the hospital. Things get worse during the monsoon as the earthen road here turns slushy and unnavigable. We are hopeful that the new road will strengthen healthcare facilities in our village,” said Bhima Hikoka, a resident of Maoist-hit Chandrapur block.

“At least 33 roads, which will cost Rs 50 crore, are in various stages of construction in Chandrapur block,” said Saroj Kumar Padhi, executive engineer of the Gunupur division of the department.

 
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