Mahatab unhappy over BJD govt ignoring peoples representative views in CNBT site selection

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Bhubaneswar, Jan 26 (PTI) A day after skipping BJDs Parliamentary Party meeting here, six-time Cuttack MP Bhartuhari Mahatab on Tuesday voiced his displeasure over selection of site for the proposed bus terminal project named after Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had laid the foundation of the Cuttack Netaji Bus Terminal (CNBT) on the freedom fighter's 125th birth anniversary on January 23.

Cuttack is the birthplace of Netaji.

Mahatab, son of former chief minister Harekrushna Mahatab, made it clear that neither the local people nor the peoples representatives were consulted before selecting the site for the Rs 65 crore CNBT at Khannagar, on the bank of river Kathajodi.

'I understand the site selection was approved by the Chief Secretary by using Google Map at the Secretariat instead of making any field verification,' the 63-year-old Parliamentarian said.

Mahatbs statement is politically significant as it came a day after he remained absent from the BJD Parliamentary Party meeting chaired by Patnaik to chalk out agendas for the upcoming Parliament session.

The MP explained that he could not attend the meet because of some prior engagements in his native Bhadrak district.

Party sources, however, said the veteran MP, who has been successively elected to Lok Sabha from Cuttack Lok Sabha seat for six successive terms since 1998, has been unhappy over being replaced by Puri MP Pinaki Mishra as the BJDs Lok Sabha leader after 2019 general elections.

'I am not aware of the new bus terminus project, the foundation stone for which was laid recently by chief minister Naveen Patnaik in the city. The decision has been taken by the Chief Secretary sitting in the secretariat.

'As far as my knowledge goes, the land for the project has been identified through google map. But, the reality is different. It would have been better if the site selection work was done after consultation with the local people and their representatives,' Mahatab said.

Mahatabs displeasure was also evident from a signed editorial piece written by him in an Odia daily 'The Prajatantra', founded by his father.

In the editorial, Mahatab has raised doubts over the manner in which developmental activities are being carried out by the administration run by the bureaucrats.

On the proposed CNBT, the MP pointed out that the project will require demolition of a central library, a school, a crematorium and two temples.

This apart, the river embankment needed to be widened in order to smoothen the movement of buses to the proposed CNBT terminal.

'Around 1200 buses enter and exit Cuttack on a daily basis. Where are the entry and exit points for such a large number of vehicles?' the MP asked.

Earlier, the opposition BJP had raised question on the choice of the venue of the proposed CNBT.

'We are not opposed to the proposed bus terminal in Cuttack, but over its site. Now their own MP has raised question today.

'The government had initially proposed to build the bus terminus at Balikuda-Gopalpur on 40-acres land, but now has shifted the venue to Khan Nagar where only 10 acres land is available. The shifting of venue is a bid to protect the land grabbers at Goaplpur-Balikuda, said BJPs Cuttack district president Prakash Behera.

BJDs Rajya Sabha MP Subhas Singh, who also hails from Cuttack, however, defended the governments decision and said, the CM has laid the foundation stone after a comprehensive survey of the site.

He has sanctioned Rs 65 crore for the project which is estimated to be completed within one and a half year.

'It's a part of the policy decision of the government, which is matter of great pride for Cuttack. We should welcome the decision, Singh said. PTI AAM SNS SNS