IMBROGLIO OVER BHUBANESWAR AIR PORT

People of Bhubaneswar are in deep despair over closure of several roads for expansion of the runway of Bhubaneswar Air Port.

No less than fifty thousand families residing in Pokhariput (Village, BDA colony, Ananta Nagar Phase I & II, Keshari Villa) Gandamunda, Bhakta Madhu Nagar, Jagamara (Village and six Colonies), Barabari, Krishna Garden Colony over and above the inhabitants of Dumuduma, Sarakantara, Khandagiri area have been disadvantaged by this expansion.

United under the banner of Bhubaneswar Nagarika Adhikara Suraskhya Samiti, hereinafter called the Samiti, they have held a massive rally here on 30 September to remind the Government of their continuous protest against the oppression that spans from this day of 2004 when Chief Minister Navin Patnaik had passed orders to block the Khandagiri-Siripur main road for facilitating the runway construction.

The Samiti has documented that around five Lakh people including poor farmers, daily wage earners, farm laborers, who were using the Khandagiri – Siripur Road daily in search of bread and butter in the heart of the Capital City have been the worst sufferers. School & College Students reading in both the sides of the city and employees working in the city sans residential accommodations have been affected. It has been playing havoc with the lives of senior citizens, retired employees, the pensioners as well as the poorest of the poor patients who depend on the Capital Hospital for health care. They are being bound to traverse more than eight kilometers every day once or twice or more times, the road that was there as per original town plan having been arbitrarily blocked for the Air Port expansion.

What would be the long term loss over fuel and time in traversing eight kilometers once or more times a day by so many people is not estimable; but experts who are in the Samiti in large numbers have estimated that the financial loss over disablement and abandonment of existing and ongoing road projects would be no less than Rs.20 crores.

Rendered inconsequential, the investment of Rs.1.00 Cr. on the Jagamara – Barabari- Delta Colony Road is lost when Rs. 17.00 cr. is tagged to premature closure of the RED ROAD promised by the state Government in the Orissa High Court; proposed closure of KARGIL ROAD connecting Pokhariput with Palashpalli accounts for another Rs.2.00 cr., the Samiti has pointed out.

The motivated misadventure would cause serious dislocation in agro-research also as huge areas of land of OUAT are being converted to the runway. It would jeopardize seed production, plant genetics research and other agronomical research work. Loss to farmers of the entire state due to this is beyond comprehension.

But most menacingly the ultimate outcome of this expansion would damage the most invaluable archaeological heritages of Orissa by uncontrollable vibrations caused by aero activities. This damage has not been assessed.

This damage is unbearable specifically as, according to the experts, the so called International Air port cannot stay as International if the area within its command is not within the range of 3000 to 5000 acres of land required for providing for a two-lane-runway, intra state airport connectivity, further scope for expansion including housing Airport Hotel, Terminals, Hangers, Staff Quarters, Ground Staff, Security, Aircraft maintenance, Fuelling etc. To do this the authorities are to dismantle half of present day Bhubaneswar.

Therefore the citizens of Bhubaneswar have been insisting upon shift of the Air Port to a new location away from the present Capital City and heritage centers where at least 5000 acres of land could be addressed afresh to the Air port. The speed in which land grabbing by the rich and mafia around Bhubaneswar is taking place would make it impossible to get such a stretch of land unless the decision in this regard is immediately taken.

But to the mandarins in the state Secretariat, citizens are idiots. And, the political leadership has no foresight.

It would be a sad chapter in our history if the present imbroglio over the location of the Air Port is not quickly settled.

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