BJD, BJP in clash over Brahmani

Soil testing in the Brahmani river in Rourkela. Picture by Uttam Kumar Pal

Bhubaneswar: The state government on Wednesday contested the Centre's assertion that forest clearance was required for building the second bridge over the Brahmani in Rourkela. The BJD and the BJP accused each other in the Assembly for misleading the people on the bridge issue.

Union road transport minister Nitin Gadkari, in reply to a letter to chief minister Naveen Patnaik on Tuesday, has said that four projects in the state, including the Brahmani bridge, were delayed "for want of forest clearances and land issues".

However, parliamentary affairs minister Bikram Keshari Arukh on Wednesday asserted in the Assembly that the site of the proposed bridge at Panposh in Rourkela did not fall in the forest area and there was no need for any green approval. To buttress his claim, Arukh quoted from a letter written by Rourkela divisional forest officer to the regional chief conservator of forests.

Later in the day, Naveen dashed off another letter to Gadkari saying that no forest clearance was needed as the proposed site (of the bridge) "is non forest in nature". Citing two letters of the forest officials and the NHAI, Naveen said: "There is no impediment for the NHAI to start the construction work even tomorrow."

In the Assembly, Arukh reiterated Naveen's statement that if the Centre failed to construct the bridge, it should permit the state government to undertake the project.

After Arukh made the assertion, the BJP MLAs said that the state government was "misleading the people". BJP's legislature party leader K.V. Singh Deo quoted extensively from Gadkari's letter to claim that the delay was on account of "forest clearance".

Congress MLAs rushed to the well of the House and said that either the state government or the BJP were "misleading" the Assembly and it amounted to breach of privilege.

Leader of the Opposition Narasingha Mishra wanted a special privilege committee of the House to examine the matter and submit its report in 15 days' time.

The House witnessed three adjournments with the Congress MLAs rushing to the well and urging the Speaker to constitute the House committee. Speaker Pradip Amat said that he would examine the matter.


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