Around 150 villages in the Malkangiri district of Odisha that had got cut off from the rest of the state due to the Machhkund and Balimela reservoirs in the Chitrakonda forest now have a new lease of life. The region – a Naxalite bastion in the red corridor – had hitherto remained completely cut off from the rest of India.
Due to the isolated nature of the area, a battalion of 37 police officers from Andhra Pradesh’s elite Greyhound force was ambushed and killed by naxalites perched atop the hills when they were on a ferry in 2008.The area remained virtually untouched after the attack. A proposal for a cable stayed bridge was made by the Odisha government in 1982 at a cost of Rs 7 crore but it never took off. Another bridge was proposed two decades later, but Gammon Infra, the builder ultimately backed out after threats of violence and blowing up of the bridge emerged.
After decades of planning, the Odisha government finally managed to start construction of a bridge in 2014.
Built at a cost of Rs 187 crore, the 910 metre-long bridge has 22 spans that will now connect 30,000 people to the rest of the state and also allow for anti-naxal operations to be conducted.
This follows another bridge that was built in neighbouring Chhattisgarh that reduced the distance between the towns of Dornpal in the maoist-affected Sukma district to Podia town in Odisha from 120 km to just 3 km. The bridge was opened to public last year.
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