46 years later, Odisha connects 151 villages to mainland in Maoist-hit Malkangiri

After a long period of 46 years, 151 villages in Odisha are once again linked to the state’s mainland in Malkangiri. Known as the Gurupriya Bridge, it was inaugurated by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Thursday. It was back in 1972, when these 151 villages were cut off to Malkangiri because of the Balimela Hydro Power Project that came up that year. The absence of the bridge created in the past created a lot of problem for the residents of the district. According to an Indian Express report, a government-run motorboat carried people across the boat, however, sometimes people had to depend on small boats due to rush. Five teenagers, in 2014 died after a boat capsized in the reservoir.
Nityananda Pradhan, a Chitrakonda-based livelihood activist while talking about the hardship that people had to go through and the importance of the bridge said, “Sometimes people would want to trade the forest produce collected in the villages. But the ferry was the only option. People barter bamboo and tamarind they collect for millet and ragi produced on family farms. Hopefully, the bridge will catalyse actual economic activity because people will farm on a large scale only when there is a market within reach.”
The report further said that Odisha’s Malkangiri district is a hotbed for marijuana cultivation that is encouraged by Maoists, while local residents said soil and climate favour turmeric farming.A government doctor while talking about the bridge was quoted saying, “The area has witnessed a lot of pregnancy deaths because expectant mothers could not be quickly moved to the mainland.” He added, “Now ambulances can be rushed across the bridge in time.” While talking about the benefits of the bridge, the report said that it will add to the government’s fight against Maoists, who have significant presence in the area for decades. There were several attempts made in the past by Maoists to impede the construction work of the bridge after knowing that the bridge will grant forces easy access.Get live Stock Prices from BSE and NSE and latest NAV, portfolio of Mutual Funds, calculate your tax by Income Tax Calculator, know market’s Top Gainers, Top Losers & Best Equity Funds. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.