|Residents remove encroachments to facilitate construction of the Sishu Bhavan-New Airport Square Road in Bhubaneswar. Pictures by Sanjib Mukherjee
Bhubaneswar, July 2: The ride before you take the flight is all set to become easier with work on the expansion of Sishu Bhavan-New Airport Square Road scheduled to begin shortly.
The ray of hope has emerged after local residents, who had allegedly encroached on land stalling the project, have begun demolishing their boundary walls in tune with the demarcation made by the authorities.
Once the road is widened, it will ease the flow of traffic in the Sishu Bhavan and Forest Park area. People coming from Bapuji Nagar, Janpath, Cuttack Road, Kalpana and Nageswar Tangi area will be able to reach the airport easily.
The Telegraph had in February 2012 highlighted how the expansion of this road was getting delayed.
In September last year, a joint team of Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation and general administration department had conducted a survey in that area and marked out portions of land encroached by the residents. However, only one landowner had then responded by demolishing his illegal boundary wall.
Sources said that a joint team of the corporation, the general administration and the Bhubaneswar Development Authority was supposed to carry out a demolition drive in the area yesterday, but it was deferred to July 8 following a request from local residents, who pleaded that they would voluntary remove the boundary walls.
Corporation’s assistant commissioner (recovery) Sumita Behera said that if any encroachment was detected on July 8, it would be promptly removed.
“We have a policy of zero tolerance in such matters as our commissioner is very clear that encroachments cannot be allowed to obstruct development work,” she said.
The public works department (PWD) has floated a tender to widen the existing road, which is barely 10 to 12 metre wide. The 1.1-km stretch will be widened to 20 metres with four lanes, a median and street lights.
Debendra Behera, who is the assistant engineer of PWD, said: “The tender process will be completed within three months. An amount of Rs 4 crore will be required for the expansion of the vital link between the Sishu Bhavan and the New Airport Square.’’
Once the demolition drive is complete, electric poles will be shifted from their existing positions. The PWD has already obtained permission from the city forest division to fell 150 trees for the expansion work.
While almost all the city roads under the PWD were widened during the last couple of years, the Sishu Bhavan- New Airport Square Road was left out allegedly because of pressure from VIPs residents, who had erected boundary walls on the space allotted by the general administration department in front of their houses. The open space had been allotted to encourage plantation in the seventies.
Such plots existed in front of at least 29 houses along this road.
“The delay in the expansion of this road shows how rich and the mighty can influence government officials and stall expansion plan. The landowners, include several retired top bureaucrats and businessmen,’’ said Bijay Mishra, a citizen.