450 km long coastal highway to connect Bengal, Odisha
The highway will pass through Satpada, Konark, Astaranga, Paradip, Ratanpur, Dhamra, Chandipur to reach Digha. However, a major portion of the highway will be built in Odisha and Bengal will only have 6.5 km within its borders.
Nevertheless, top officials of the state secretariat are satisfied to get the new road connectivity.
Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has taken up detailed review of the National Highways (NHs) network, with a view to improve road connectivity between coastal and border areas, backward areas, religious places and tourist spots.
The project includes construction; rehabilitation; widening of about 1,500 major bridges and 200 railway over bridges (ROBs) and railway under bridges (RUBs) on NHs; and improvement of newly-declared NHs providing connectivity to headquarters of districts.
“Following the huge tourist turnout from Bengal to Odisha and vice versa, the Centre decided to approve the project. Not only in this project particularly, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highway has assigned the tasks of preparation of detailed project reports for about 17,200 km length of roads and about 205 ROBs, RUBs to various agencies. The Ministry has also invited bids for preparation of DPRs for about 1,500 major bridges on NHs,” a source from the Ministry said.
For this coastal highway project, the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) is preparing detail project report. The Centre will finance the project and the state government will give the required land for the two-lane highway. The source added that the DPR is almost ready.
The Centre and the states see a great chance to enhance the tourism with this project. The proposed highway will pass alongside Chilika Lake.
“We have asked the district magistrates to align the road. Nearly 129 km of roads already exist in the proposed 451.44 km. We need some necessary clearance as well,” the source said. He further added that the proposed highway would have 29 major bridges, including one over the Chilika Lake. The bridge would be an artistic beauty as well as engineering excellence.
The highway will avoid populated neighborhoods, wildlife areas, forests, land earmarked for development of some ports in Odisha and, importantly, the Defense Research Development Organisation’s Integrated Testing Range at Chandipur.
“The new road connectivity will not only benefit Odisha; even the tourists from Bengal will get a
new route to reach there faster. The work is expected to be initiated soon,” said the source.