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Protests derail overbridge

Bhubaneswar, Jan. 23: Protests over eviction have derailed a railway overbridge that was supposed to come up at VSS Nagar here.

Three years ago, the East Coast Railways (ECoR) and the state government had started planning four railway overbridges. However, while work began on three of those in January, it is yet to begin in VSS Nagar. The delay is because of protests by local residents.

Residents, mainly comprising traders of VSS Nagar, are opposing the location of the overbridge as it is likely to be preceded by an eviction drive that could displace many of them.

Both the railway and state government officials admitted that while the work is progressing according to the plan at Mancheswar, Saheed Nagar and Pokhariput, there is no progress in the case of the VSS Nagar overbridge.

The original plan of 2009-10 had envisaged the VSS Nagar bridge with an investment of Rs 44.48 crore. For Mancheswar it was Rs 43.08 crore, Saheed Nagar Rs 29.54 crore and Pokhariput Rs 29.81 crore.

Ten per cent of the work on three of them, except VSS Nagar, has been completed by building diversions for traffic.

However, local residents said that in case of the Mancheswar overbridge, the diversion was not yet used by the ECoR authorities. They have to shift the present position of the gate to the new approach road.

Executive engineer, Division-IV of the Public Works Department (PWD), C.P. Gantayat said: “Under our engineering division we have facilitated the two alternate roads for traffic diversion at Mancheswar and Saheed Nagar and the railway authorities have to shift the gate from the old level crossing to the diverted position in Mancheswar. At Saheed Nagar, the diversion is already in use.”

The diversion at Pokhariput has been created by Division-II of PWD.

Usually, the railway authorities build their part of the railway overbridge on the rail tracks, and the state government provides approach roads on either side.

At Pokhariput, the railway contractor has already erected the structure at the Pokhariput-end.

Regarding the progress of the overbridge at VSS Nagar, Gantayat said: “The project work is yet to start as the local traders are protesting. The tenders can only be floated when the problem is solved.”

Chief public relations officer ECoR Rabinarayan Mohapatra said: “The state government officials have assured us of cooperation in resolving the local issue as there is also some litigation involved. Once the problem is solved, we can start the construction. Even the diversion plan has not been taken up there.”