Image: Odisha Cm inaugrates expressway
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Sunday inaugurated the Biju Expressway and the Biju Economic Corridor during his visit to the western districts of the state, besides attending a slew of programmes in the region.
Patnaik also held road shows in Kalahandi and Bargarh districts, the two BJP strongholds.
The CM's show in the saffron corridor sparked strong reactions from BJP leaders who termed the the visit to as a "political gimmick" ahead of the 2024 elections to Lok Sabha and Odisha Assembly.
The saffron party leaders claimed that the the state government, despite building the expressway "with allocations made under the Central Road and Infrastructure Fund", did not invite any central leaders for the event.
Marking 107th birth anniversary of his father and legendary leader Biju Patnaik, the CM, during his visit to Nuapada district, inaugurated the 174.5-km-long four-lane Biju Expressway -- connecting Ghatipada with Ampani – built at a cost of Rs 590.84-crore.
At Bargarh, he unveiled the Biju Economic Corridor, spanning from Sohela to Ampani, and asserted that the incentives and subsidies provided by his government will attract investments to the region in the days to come.
Patnaik, on the occasion, also inaugurated and laid the foundation of various projects to the tune of Rs 3,081 crore in the three western Odisha districts of Kalahandi, Nuapada and Bargarh.
Addressing people, he said that the Biju Expressway is not just a road but the "lifeline of this region".
"The Biju Expressway will open up opportunities for many people, including farmers and students, provide a much-needed boost to businesses, offer improved health services and facilitate east of transportation," the CM pointed out.
He said necessary work, including land acquisition, has been initiated to facilitate industrial development at the Biju Economic Corridor, which, in turn, will benefit the people of eight districts -- Sundargarh, Sambalpur, Jharsuguda, Nuapada, Kalahandi, Nabarangpur, Koraput and Malkangiri.
Besides an increase in economic exchanges between west and south Odisha, the corridor will also boost tourism in the region, Patnaik underlined.
Noting that his father Biju Patnaik, as the then chief minister, had created Nuapada district, the CM said, "Biju Babu had played a leading role in the development of infrastructure in Odisha. My government is also working to build a strong Odisha on lines of Biju Babu's work." State ministers, local MLAs and three-tire panchayat functionaries were among those present at the programmes held in western Odisha during the day.
Meanwhile, Kalahandi BJP MP Basant Panda termed Patnaik's visit to three western Odisha districts as nothing short of a "show-off".
"The CM's tour to this region is an attempt to clean his image after the brutal murder of ex-health minister Naba Das. The Biju Expressway was constructed with the help of money allocated under the Central Road and Infrastructure Fund. However, not even a single minister from the Centre was invited to the inauguration. People of Kalahandi and western Odisha will rightfully show him his proper place," Panda claimed.
Similarly, Congress Legislature Party leader Narasingha Mishra, who hails from Bolangir district in western Odisha, criticised the chief minister "for not fulfilling some of the promises" he made to people.
"What happened to the CM’s promise of providing irrigation facilities to 30 per cent of agricultural land? Where is the second agriculture university in western region, as he had assured?" Mishra maintained.
Former MLA and BJP leader Pradip Purohit also slammed Patnaik "for not giving additional Rs 100 subsidy on every quintal of paddy being procured in government marketplaces".
“The CM had made the announcement in 2016, but the farmers are yet to get the additional subsidy as promised by the chief minister," he added.
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