Political race to open road

A national highway bypass in Burdwan became the latest battleground for Trinamul and the BJP today when both Bengal minister Malay Ghatak and Union minister Babul Supriyo inaugurated the road within four hours of each other.

By Abhijeet Chatterjee in Durgapur
  • Published 11.12.16
  •  
(Top) Ghatak and (below) Supriyo inaugurate the road. (Arup Sarkar)

Durgapur, Nov. 10: A national highway bypass in Burdwan became the latest battleground for Trinamul and the BJP today when both Bengal minister Malay Ghatak and Union minister Babul Supriyo inaugurated the road within four hours of each other.

Ghatak, state labour minister, said the bypass had been lying unused three months after completion of the work and that he had inaugurated it on "public demand" while on a visit to Panagarh to take part in a Trinamul protest against demonetisation.

Supriyo accused Ghatak of "spreading lies" and said the 8km NH2 bypass had not been inaugurated earlier because "some minor work" was unfinished.

The bypass was planned in 2009 by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to reduce traffic congestion in Panagarh.

"The road was laid three months ago but could not be used as no Union minister got the time to inaugurate it. Local people urged me to open it. I could not refuse," Ghatak said.

When journalists pointed out that Supriyo was supposed to inaugurate it later in the day, Ghatak said: "I don't know anything about this. I just responded to the people's demand. There is no politics here."

Four hours later, at 4.40pm, Supriyo arrived in Panagarh and inaugurated the bypass again at an NHAI programme.

"Malay Ghatak said work on the road was finished and it was lying unused for three months, which is wrong. There is still some minor work left to be done. I think it has become a practice for the minister to spread lies," he said.