Congress, BJD spar over development in tribal-dominated district

Accusing the BJD regime of “not doing enough” to develop tribal-dominated Malkangiri district, the Congress today threatened to stop Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik from entering the region for inaugurating a newly built bridge on Gurupriya river.

The ruling party, however, refuted the allegation as “baseless” and said the grand old party is indulging in “dirty politics” with an eye on 2019 elections.

State Congress Working President and former MP Pradeep Majhi said he would launch an indefinite sit-in outside the Malkangiri Collectorate from July 9 in protest against the alleged indifference of the BJD government towards the people of the district.

The state government has been unsuccessful in its attempt to address the basic issues of the tribal people in the region, he alleged.

“Around 2,000 children of the district, who dropped out of school, are yet to go back. Despite repeated demands, the issue remains unresolved. Also, the government has stopped providing land patta here under Forest Rights Act,” he said.

Referring to the case of a missing tribal student, the former MP said that the government has “failed” to trace him even after three years.

“The chief minister would not be allowed to visit the district to inaugurate the bridge under these circumstances,” he added.

Hitting out at Congress working president, BJD leader and Nabarangpur MP Balabhadra Majhi said Pradeep Majhi was trying to “mislead” people.

The Congress is making baseless allegations as its support base has eroded in the district, he said

“Pradeep Majhi represented Nabarangpur Lok Sabha seat for five years till 2014. He should introspect on his actions for Malkangiri. During his tenure, the district had only 168 km of motorable road. In the last four years, we have added 1400 km of road network in the district,” the BJD MP claimed.

The state government has built 21 big bridges in the district and posted 30 doctors here since 2014, he said.

“A seven-storey 300 bed hospital at Malkangiri will be commissioned soon. While we have constructed new sub-stations in the district, over 500 villages have been electrified.

These are signs of development. The Congress leader should visit the villages to witness development,” he asserted.

The Congress was in power for a long period in the state as well as the Centre, but they didn’t they do anything to change the situation of people here, the Nabarangpur MP stated.

“For the past five decades people have been demanding a bridge over Gurupriya river. It is our government that took the initiative to build the bridge,” the BJD MP said.

Constructed with a budget of Rs 172.58 crore, the 910-metre bridge over Gurupriya river aims to connect 151 villages, situated on the other side of Balimela reservoir, with the mainland.

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