Bhubaneswar,12/7 ( Odisha Samachar/Abhisek Mohanty)-: A 12-member State team of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led by State President Kanak Vardhan Singhdeo visited Belabahali village of Keonjhar district on July 11 to assess the grave situation that has been arisen after the arrest of 114 persons. The team included senior leaders Manmohan Samal, Samir Dey, Surama Padhy, Nayan Mohanty, Mohan Charan Majhi, Binod Dash, Niyati Giri, Prabhati Parida, Dr. Jatin Mohanty, Simantini Jena, Maheswar Sahoo, Dr. Lekhasri Samantsinghar, Thakur Ranjit Das and others.
The team reached Belabahali at 12 noon and partook in a meeting where the villagers spoke out about the circumstances that had led to the present law and order situation and the atrocities that have been perpetuated upon them by the police and administration. Next the team visited the inmates lodged at Keonjhar jail and listened to their woes. Finally, the team met with Keonjhar Collector and discussed how to peacefully resolve the deadlock.
Addressing a press conference at party’s State headquarters, State President Kanak Vardhan Singhdeo informed “The team found that the people of Belabahali were peacefully agitating against the realignment of bridge over Kusei River which has failed to address the fear of high flood looming large on Belabahali and five other panchayats having a total population of over 25,000 people”.
He stated that as per the people’s design for the bridge, this is 240 metre, at an angle of 60 degree and will have minimum impact on inhabitation downstream. However, the design proposed by Government includes 360 metre, is at an angle of 35 degree to the bank and will have maximum impact on habitation downstream as the torrential water will directly hit the bank. The Government design also includes sand filling of over 1 km of river bed approaching the bridge, which is highly impracticable.
“As per Field Inspection Report of Additional Secretary to Odisha Government, Works Department, he has admitted that the people’s design satisfies NHAI norms without demolishing the existing built-up structure”, Singhdeo said, adding that moreover, to disburse the crowd, police lathicharged and fired tear gas shells and rubber bullets, in which hundreds of people were injured. Police later on arrested 114 persons from Belabahali, out of which 63 are women and 51 are men, in the middle of the night or early morning when they were out on morning walk or performing their daily ablutions. No mahila police were present when women were arrested and they were dragged to the vans by male police. It is regretful that many persons including women who have sustained grievous injuries have been denied medical treatment at local hospitals.
Upon study of the situation, BJP delegation has decided to fully support the peaceful agitation of villagers to change the alignment of the bridge that will protect Belabahali and adjoining five villages from flood damage. The party has also decided to press for immediate call off to the police cordon laid around the village to allow freedom of movement to villagers.
The party members demanded that power needs to be restored immediately to the village, arrested persons especially women need to be released immediately or produced before Magistrate and reason assigned for their detention.
The party has decided to take the matter of the realignment of the bridge with the Shipping Ministry at the Centre. The party will resort to ‘Padayatra’ from Belabahali to Bhubaneswar if the legitimate demands are not met.