IDUKKI: The residents of Alady near Chappathu continue to be a paralysed lot. The bridge across the Periyar washed away by floodwater is yet to be rebuilt. And life is struggling to get back on track in the Alady and Porukanni areas. Hundreds, including schoolchildren and women, are compelled to cross the river on bamboo rafts risking their lives. Pregnant women too are reportedly resorting to the rafts.“We are facing difficulties, we are forced to cross the river on rafts to fulfil our daily needs,” said Josekutty, a local resident.
The 30-ft suspension bridge was a vital link for the 220 families of Porukanni till it disappeared in the deluge on August 17. Following repeated pleas from the natives, the bridge was built in 2003 using the local area development fund of the then MP Francis George.Now, local residents have made a makeshift bamboo raft to ferry people and goods. With physical strength playing a key role in using the raft, children and women are finding it hard to cross the river. Students need to wait for elders to get across.
“As many as 90 schoolchildren have to cross the river daily. They have been affected the most. If they avoid the bamboo raft, they will have to walk 4 km to reach Chappathu town,” Josekutty said.As no more than four children and an adult can travel on the raft at a time, the bamboo raft begins operations at 7 am and it takes around two hours to ferry everyone. Hence, a majority of students miss their regular buses and fail to reach school in time.
Patients too are at risk as commuting on rafts can be a dangerous proposition. As of now, a permanent bridge remains a distant dream. “A committee convened by the residents has decided to file a memorandum with the District Collector, MP and the Chief Minister, requesting them to take urgent measures to construct the approach road and bridge,” said Biju, another resident.