The most awaited Gurupriya bridge in the Naxal-hit Malkangiri district of Odisha, was inaugurated on 26th July 2018 by Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik. It links the mainland to 151 villages in 9 Gram panchayats. Here are 10 interesting facts about the Gurupriya Setu and the linked villages.
- It is one of the numerous most delayed infrastructure projects in India.
- All 151 villages in 9 Gram Panchayats in the Chitrakonda block were cut off from the main land when the Machkund reservoir was constructed in 1960 and the Balimela Hydro Power Project later, in 1972.
- The plan for the bridge has existed on paper since 1956.
- In 1982 the maiden tender was floated during the Congress party regime in Odisha with Janaki Ballabh Patnaik as its chief minister.
- The cut-off area is infested with Maoists activities and it took 36 years to complete the project due to Naxal threats.
- In June 2008, 38 personnel of the Greyhound commando force drowned in the Gurupriya river after being attacked by Maoists.
- In 2011, then Malkangiri district collector Vineel Krishna and a junior engineer were abducted by Maoists while on a visit to the cut-off area. The collector was on a motor bike and paid the price for being responsive to the needs of the people.
- It was in 2014 that construction of Gurupriya bridge finally got impetus when the Border Security Force personnel set up their base near the river on both sides of the bridge to keep a vigil.
- About 30,000 tribal inhabitants are staying in cut-off area that is now linked to mainland.
- Rs 187.25 crore was spent to build the bridge. The estimated construction cost during first tender in 1982 was Rs 7 crore.