Villagers, police clash over bridge construction

Updated - July 08, 2015 05:40 am IST

Published - July 08, 2015 12:00 am IST - BHUBANESWAR:

More than 50 persons, including a magistrate and four police personnel, were seriously injured when the police and villagers clashed over construction of bridge on National Highway-215 near Anandpur in Odisha’s Keonjhar district early on Tuesday.

Residents of Bellabahali village near Anandpur had been picketing at the construction site for three days demanding that the National Highway authority should change road alignment and change site of bridge on the Kushei River. The situation became violent when the administration with help of police force tried to disperse villagers and facilitate construction of the bridge.

Infuriated by the early morning action by the police, hundreds of villagers started pelting stones at the police personnel and physically assaulted the cops and other government officials. The Block Development Officer was thrashed by protesters who also torched the site camp of contractor firm -- Gayatri Constructions. Many critically injured persons were shifted to SCB Medical College Hospital, Cuttack.

After more than hour-long pitched battle, the situation was brought under control. As many as 15 platoons of police were deployed at the construction site.

Works Secretary Nalini Kant Pradhan said: “The administration has discussed the issue of bridge construction with villagers several times. At this moment, the site cannot be changed. A technical committee had finalised the location. Accordingly, land acquisition was completed there. Now when the contractor is ready to start construction, the location cannot be changed. If location is changed, the project cannot be completed in time.”

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