Bhubaneswar, June 26: The news of a 600km highway across Orissa to be christened after South Korean steel giant Posco created a furore at the Assembly today.
The “Centre’s proposal” to build the highway, to facilitate the proposed Posco plant and to name it after the steel giant was reported in an Orissa daily.
The newspaper reports had quoted anonymous officials of the national highway and surface transport ministry, who had said that the Centre has plans to construct and upgrade seven roads to facilitate transport of raw materials to the proposed plant near Paradip. These roads, to be constructed with a central assistance of Rs 4,000 crore, would be called “Posco highways”.
Raising the issue during the zero hour, Orissa Gana Parishad whip Arun Dey said highways are never named after any individual, region or company. If the proposed highways are named after the foreign company, it will hurt the “sentiments” of the people from Orissa.
“If tomorrow Pakistan or China offers to finance a road here only if we name it after their country, will the Prime Minister allow it'” he roared.
“Neither the Prime minister, Manmohan Singh, nor the chief minister, Naveen Patnaik, has any patriotic feelings, but the people of Orissa do have self-respect,” Dey said.
“I don’t see any difference between Manmohan Singh and Naveen Patnaik,” he added, alleging that both were too keen to protect the interests of the South Korean steel giant.
The deputy leader of Congress, Narasingh Mishra, also joined in adding that his party “disapproved” of the idea of naming any road in Orissa after Posco.
Ruling BJD member Pradeep Maharathy lambasted the Congress-led UPA government for the move. Maharathy suggested that a unanimous resolution be adopted in the Assembly opposing the Centre’s move.
After hearing all the views, Speaker Maheswar Mohanty assured all that he would take appropriate steps in this regard. Chief minister Naveen Patnaik, who returned from New Delhi this afternoon, however, explained that his government had no information about such highways.