Connectivity has finally come to residents of 151 villages in Odisha, an eastern Indian state that borders the Bay of Bengal. Not computer connectivity, but physical connectivity in the form of the massive new Gurupriya Bridge to the Indian mainland, from which the region around the Chitrakonda reservoir in the state’s Malkangiri district has been isolated for nearly six decades.
In the 1960s and 1970s, major Machhkund irrigation and Balimela hydropower projects brought modernity to parts of Odisha. Construction of that infrastructure, however, also cut off 151 villages from the rest of mainland India (NewsX).
After planning that began in the 1980s (The New Indian Express), the long-anticipated Gurupriya Bridge was formally opened on July 26, linking about 30,000 people to the mainland.
Representing a “dream come true” for regional residents, “the bridge will be a landmark engineering feat in the State considering the natural features and technical challenges posed by the site,” wrote The New Indian Express. The 910-meter-long structure uses 22 spans to cross on the Balimela reservoir.
For some, the bridge heralds a new era of peace (The Daily Pioneer) for a region that has suffered economic hardship and political turmoil since being isolated from the rest of the country. Part of the so-called “red corridor” that runs through some of the country’s poorest regions, the area has been the site of Naxalite-Maoist insurgency efforts against the federal government.