By Samahit Bal
In dreams begin responsibilities. People had the dream and the Government lived up to its responsibility. All these happened like a fairytale when the development landscape of Odisha received a new milestone in the form of the long awaited Gurupriya bridge. It was dream come true for 151 villages of 7 GPs, that were cut off from the benefits of modern world for centuries altogether.
Not just a better means for transportation, the bridge will also go a long way in addressing the challenges of internal security. The bridge in the Maoist affected area of Chitrakonda Block in Malkangiri district was conceived in 1986. The three decades long wait was worth the wait. It would not be an overstatement to say that it was the commitment of the Naveen Patnaik led Govt that has singlehandedly brought smiles to thousands of people that were deprived of theirs dreams.
It was a historic moment when the Chief Minister dedicated the concrete piece of wonder to the people. With this The State Govt has certainly scripted a new chapter of history for the local people. The tag of “cut off area’ has quickly been rendered to be thing of past now. With a road to the mainstream of development laid as a red carpet, the realization of the potential of the region is just a matter of time. This also opens the door to the betterment of various dimensions of development including health, education, transport and communication, employment and many avenues of livelihood opportunities for the region, as envisaged by the state Government.
Now it’s only realistic to expect the Govt acting on its further commitment. The govt remained true to its billing of a responsible one when the CM announced a special package of Rs 100 crores for further development of the area. This has not just given a ray of hope to the local people, it has also planted new wings to their dreams. It’s about time the state witnessed balanced growth and the regional disparities were brought down to the minimum imaginable. A well laid infrastructure can only bridge the gap of disparities in the distribution of benefits of development. The Gurupriya bridge is a giant step in the right direction.
The bridge promised to arrest the miseries of the hitherto cut off people and also to address the perpetual threats to internal security. Shedding all the political affiliations down to dust, the people of the state must applaud this initiative and give due credit to the relentless efforts of the State Government in its endeavor to deliver distributive justice. The district of Malkangiri bordering the neighbourig state of Andhra Pradesh has long been the victim of Naxal activities. The geographical disadvantage had been turned into a clear advantage by the Naxals as they made the area their safe haven.
In past ten years, over 300 cases of Naxal violence have been reported in Malkangiri district alone, posing huge challenge to the internal security of the country. As many as 178 lives have fallen prey, including 101 innocent locals and 78 soldiers. The area that was cut off before Gurupriya bridge became a reality, had its sad share of grief as it had lost 49 soldiers and 23 innocent people. Out of the 49 soldiers, 37 were from the bordering state of Andhra. The Maoists have been successful in their heinous acts largely due to the absence of proper transport and communication facilities. With this backdrop, the significance of Gurupriya bridge is immense.
As if that was not enough, illegal trading of narcotics in the district has also dented the economic development of the area. Despite all these adversities and against all the odds the Gurupriya bridge now stands as a great hope for the days to come. That “Odisha can and Odisha will” has become the new buzz words sending out a loud and clear message across the country. It has also, once again, underlined the able leadership of the Chief Minister Shri Naveen Patnaik.
However, as we have seen in the past there is no dearth of people with vested interests to further their political ambitions. At a time when the entire state is applauding the realization of thousands of dreams, the main opposition party of the State-Congress called for a Chitrakonda bandh and observed a day of protest. The hypocrisy looks even uglier when the congress leader were heard welcoming the opening of the bridge, yet mobilized the school children to protest with black bands. Such double standards and negativity are the greatest foes of development of the people and the state. How I wish they were never there!