National highway status, however, eludes the dream project of chief minister Naveen Patnaik, who has been harping on this road project at every meeting of Maoist-affected states and at Prime Minister-Planning Commission discussions.
The proposed highway will pass through 12 districts of Orissa, including the Maoist-ridden Malkangiri, Koraput, Rayagada, Keonjhar and Mayurbhanj.
The Orissa stretch of the inter-state road will start from Motu in Malkangiri district in the south and terminate at Tiring in Mayurbhanj district in the north.
The chief minister felt that if the corridor passing through the Maoist affected states of Jharkhand, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh is constructed, it would usher in economic development in the region and thereby reduce the intensity of Left-wing extremism.
The route is something like this: Vijayawada-Kodar-Khammam-Motu-Malkangiri-Jeypore-Koraput-Rayagada-
Chakradharpur-Khunti-Ranchi (see map).
Since the Naxalites are rapidly infiltrating Orissa, apart from Karnataka, security experts feel the Centre should decide on the project at the earliest and implement it fast.
“After five years, the rebels may not let you work,” said an expert from Chhattisgarh working on the project.
He added that some of the stretches like from Koraput to Rayagada are heavily affected by the Naxalites and need security.
In Jharkhand, engineers working on the project disclosed that contractors have been paying the Naxalites regularly in order to progress with work.