Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Baliguda, Oct 5:
After the Great Indian Ropetrick, it is now time to wade through knee-deep water for the people of several villages under Simanbadi panchayat of Daringbadi block in Odisha’s Kandhamal district.
For years, hundreds of villagers in the area had no choice but to cross the river, balancing themselves – and their children, bicycles and sundry other things – on a rope on a journey fraught with great risk. Even school children and sick people had no choice but to depend on the precarious ropeway to reach their destinations.
But after a story titled ‘Barshadine Baunsharani’ with tell-tale pictures published in leading Odia daily ‘Sambad’ recently, the people of the area finally have a choice. But they are unable to decide whether it is any better than the ropetrick option they exercised all these years.
With the ropes now removed by the local administration embarrassed after publication of the ‘Sambad’ report, villagers have to wade through water – bicycle and all – to reach the other end of the river. For most people, it is like the proverbial ‘from the frying pan to the fire’. “It is okay for now. But what do we do when the river is in spate during the rainy season?” asks a villager.
The decision of the local administration followed a visit by the southern range RDC during which he was shown the ‘Sambad’ report. The RDC reportedly made his displeasure known to the district administration in no unceratin terms.
With the additional Chief Secretary in the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) Aditya Prasad Padhi set to visit Kandhamal district for three days from tomorrow to review implementation of development projects as per the direction of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, it remains to be seen if the administration comes up with a long-tern solution – a long-delayed bridge over the river – or another brainwave.
Work on a bridge on the river had started 15 years ago, but has not gone very far due to the shortsightedness of the engineers and local authorities.
Batirani river at Simanbadi, however, is only one of the five places in Kandhamal district where people have to depend on ropeways to cross the river to go to the local market, the block office or to take their sick to the nearest hospital.
People from Birandapada, Tatumaha, Gopagoan, Gronaketa and neighbouring villages also have to use a ropeway to cross the Kalipenu river in K. Nuagaon block.
In Sirtiguda panchayat of the same block, more than 2000 people belonging to Gasanaju, Kamangi, Jurukapuda, Beheradadi, Dikabera villages have to bank on a ropeway to cross Kalibira river.
Four people have already died in the last two years while crossing the Burangia river in Kirikuti panchayat of Daringbadi block using the ropeway.
There is every likelihood of more casualties if bridges are not built on the rivers and streams that dot the district.