BERHAMPUR: Life literally is a tightrope walk for the villagers of Birindapada in Kandhamal district. Every day, the people, young and old, women and children, do the precarious balancing act on the makeshift bridge made of a single aluminium rope to cross the Kalipada nullah for their destinations.
Surrounded by hillocks on three sides, there is no road to Birindapada under Gunjibadi panchayat of the district. It is inhabited by 50 families. The village under K Nuagaon block is just eight kms from Raikia town but has escaped the notice of Government officials and elected representatives as far as development is concerned.
For their basic needs, the villagers depend on Lokebadi village nearby and the dangling rope is the only mode to reach there. While villagers used boats to cross the nullah 15 years back, they are unable to do so now as breadth of the water body has reduced to just 50 feet. As an alternative, villagers have made a rope using five thick aluminium wires that has been tied to two trees across the nullah. During monsoon, the village is cut off from the rest of the world with the nullah overflowing in the banks. Schoolchildren, the elderly, even the sick, all use the hanging rope to reach their destinations on the other side.
Their life hangs on 50-ft aluminium rope
Birindapada has no school or hospital and villagers eke out living by cultivating turmeric and collecting Sal leaves. They have to cross the nullah to collect PDS commodities from Lokebadi village and purchase other essential things. The village has 30 schoolchildren, who risk their life every day to reach school in the neighbouring village.
“From elected representatives to Government officers, everyone is aware of our plight but nobody is doing anything to address the problem,” alleged John Pradhan, a villager, who carries a cycle on his shoulders and crosses the nullah everyday to reach Raikia.
The rope is replaced with a new one every two years and all the villagers contribute towards procuring new aluminium wires to make the rope. Healthcare is a dream for the residents. No doctor has ever visited the village and patients have to cross the nullah to reach the nearest health centre. Pregnant women deliver in their homes as they cannot travel to health centres for institutional deliveries. In some cases, ASHA workers or nurses manage to reach the village to assist in deliveries.
Two years back, the then Kandhamal Collector N Tirumala Nayak had been to the village and assured the villagers to construct a bridge over the nullah. The issue was also taken up by the State Human Rights Commission but nothing has been done so far. BDO of K Nuagaon P Jena said the block officials and district administration are aware of the problems and steps are being taken to construct a bridge over Kalipada nullah soon.