Odisha gives go-ahead for ₹8,000-crore coastal highway project

The 382-km road will connect Odisha’s Tangi with West Bengal’s Digha.

August 08, 2021 01:03 pm | Updated 01:03 pm IST - BHUBANESWAR:

The State government has given consent for the coastal highway after much deliberation. File photo for representation.

The State government has given consent for the coastal highway after much deliberation. File photo for representation.

The Naveen Patnaik government has given its consent to an ambitious ₹8,000-crore coastal highway project that would connect Odisha’s Tangi with West Bengal’s Digha, six years after the proposal was mooted.

If everything goes as planned, the first tender for laying a portion of the road could be invited by March next.

“The State government has given consent for the coastal highway after much deliberation. We will go for different regulatory approvals required for the project as the proposed road will pass in the vicinity of various forests and Bay of Bengal and over rivers,” Ram Prasad Panda, Chief General Manager of the National Highway Authority of India, Bhubaneswar.

Brushing aside environment concerns being raised over the project, Mr. Panda said the proposed road would not intersect any ecologically sensitive areas.

“Due care has been taken to evade the forest and sanctuary areas in the plan. The coastal highway will prove a key infrastructure milestone for transportation of port-related goods, boosting tourism and handling disaster crisis in the future,” said head of NHAI’s Bhubaneswar office.

Major traffic of National Highway-16 is likely to shift to the new coastal highway upon its completion.

Ecologically sensitive Chilika, Balukhanda Konark Wildlife Sanctuary, Bhitarakanika Sanctuary Area and some of the important Olive Ridley turtle nesting sites initially came in the way of the 382-km-long coastal highway.

The project was modified following reservations of environmentalists over a long bridge proposed over of Chilika Lake. The crucial road project would originate from Tangi in Khordha district instead of Gopalpur in Ganjam district. As per road design, all major towns would be by-passed, said Mr. Panda.

Except a stretch outside Puri town, all roads would be laid anew. “The project would require close to 2,000 ha of land while 15-20% of the project cost would be spent towards acquisition of land,” he pointed out.

The highway would cross 11 rivers and a number of water channels in six coastal districts and hence, there would be a large number of bridges and culverts than in any other road project. From an engineering point of view, special treatment of slushy areas would be required. Besides, bridges over major rivers would be made compatible for proposed inland waterways. Bridges may be made taller and width between pillars could be wider.

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