Odisha is one of the fastest developing states in India today. It has marched ahead in terms of quality of life, real income of the people, rise in investments, reduction of poverty and geared up socio-economic development. However, the benefits of development don’t reach the remotest corner of Odisha, the tribal hinterlands which are inhabited by poorest of the poor inspite of being mineral rich belt.
The major lacuna is connectivity. One such district of Odisha, Malkangiri, considered a hotbed of Maoist activity, has been deprived of the benefits of the growth. Isolation, alienation, superstition, ignorance coupled with high incidence of Naxal activity has bedevilled the region in the past. Abysmally low literacy, high infant mortality rate and inaccessible terrain put a big question mark over the talk of inclusive growth in this tribal-dominated district of Odisha. It is dubiously known for deaths due to Malnutrition and Japanese Encephalitis. All the attempts at past to mainstream it were blocked by the Left wing extremist and armed forces.
However, with patience and perseverance, comes the fruit. The State Government, in one of its recent milestone achievement has initiated, struggled and given to the people of Malkangiri a bridge of hope, Gurupriya Setu under the leadership of Shri Naveen Patnaik, Hon’ble CM of Odisha. Malkangiri can be integrated with the rest of Odisha and process of development. The Gurupriya Bridge was the dream project of the Odisha government. It was planned at Janbai to connect the area to the Chitrakonda-Janbai-Papermetla route.
GurupriyaSetu is a milestone in Odisha’s course of Development as it has been built in a record time of 4 years despite all the obstacles. It will transform the lives of people in 151 villages that were cut-off for nearly 5 decades. Constructed at a cost of more than Rs 187 crore, the bridge will put an end to the inconvenience faced by around 30,000 people of the villages who have been cut off from the mainland for nearly five decades.
The planning for construction of the bridge was started in the 1980s but could not be executed due to remote location, inaccessibility, presence of Maoists and other factors. The work for bridge construction eventually started in 2014 in full swing and got completed within four years. The bridge will help in expediting development process in the area in terms of health, education, economic activities, electrification and access to public services through improved connectivity. This apart, the bridge will facilitate efforts for combating Maoist activities in the district .It is a testimony to the Government’s commitment to integrate all parts of Odisha and reach the unreached.
Practically, working with the tribal and their development for past 3 decades, we have witnessed the problems faced by the students and communities from Malkangiri and how the bridge will be a symbol of hope and peace for the extremist to give up the armed struggle and become the part of speeding up the development.
Bande Utkala Janani!