BALASORE: Boats are the only mode of transport for residents of Govindpur village under Rashalpur panchayat in Balasore Sadar Assembly constituency. A bridge over Jalaka river has been a longstanding demand of villagers, but it has fallen on deaf ears.
Flood of Jalaka river cuts off Govindpur from the mainstream. Due to lack of an all-weather road or a bridge over the river, villagers are forced to use rickety boats to cross the river and reach their destinations. Villagers of Govindpur mostly depend on Uladi village on the other side of the river for their daily needs and from there, they travel to the district headquarters town. Govindpur is located in western part and Uladi is on the eastern part of Rashalpur panchayat.
The riverside villages of Rashalpur, Uladi, Govindpur, Mahisali and Badadhanadi under Rashalpur panchayat have a population of 7,000. Owing to lack of an all-weather road or bridge, Govindpur has remained cut off from the other villages of the panchayat. It is only linked with Uladi through the river route.
The village has no primary school or anganwadi centre and villagers depend on fishing and farming to eke out living. They suffer crop loss whenever there is flood in Jalaka as backwaters of the river enters paddy fields. While children use the boats to reach their school in Uladi, villagers use them to ferry fish and paddy to markets in the panchayat. Patients are also taken to the District Headquarters Hospital and local health centres in the boats.
Gourahari Mohanty, a local, said residents of the village do not send their children to school during rainy season when the river is in spate. The villagers had submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister through his grievance cell seeking fulfilment of their demand for construction of a bridge or road in the village, but in vain.
Rashalpur gram panchayat sarpanch Subesh Kumar Nayak said he has raised the demand of the residents of Govindpur village before the Block Development Officer and the Collector but no action has been taken so far. Zilla Parishad members Basanta Pani, Harekrushna Dalei and Jaga Marandi said they too have brought the matter to the notice of the Collector and elected representatives.
Contacted, Balasore Sadar legislator Jeevan Pradeep Dash said a proposal has been sent to the State Government for constructing a bridge over the river under Biju Setu Yojana. “As per norms, one bridge is allotted to a block every year. I am trying my best to put pressure on the Government to provide financial assistance for constructing the bridge at the earliest”, he added.