BERHAMPUR: A 21-year-old girl died while wading through Kalipenu stream in Dharampur village under K Nuagaon block of Kandhamal district on Friday. She is Jaleswari Dalbehera.
In the afternoon, Jaleswari, along with her aunt Tarabati Patra, crossed the stream, which was 3.5 feet deep then, to reach their agricultural land for paddy transplantation. While returning, they again entered the stream unaware that the water current had increased. Both were swept away but Tarabati managed to swim to the bank of the stream. She returned to the village and informed locals, who rushed to the spot. After searching the area for over three hours, they found Jaleswari’s body 500 metres away from the spot where she drowned.
This is not the first incident when someone has died or been injured while wading through a stream or river or crossing it using a rope to reach destination. Last month, six women had fallen into a river while crossing it using a rope in neighbouring Daringbadi. Fortunately, they were rescued by three youths.
K Nuagaon block, where development is still a far cry, is dotted with streams and rivers. Ropes are villagers’ only means to remain connected with the mainstream.
Almost everyday, villagers face the risk of crossing these streams and rivers with the help of aluminium ropes and the risk increases manifold during rainy season. Like Dharampur villagers, people of adjacent Toperikia, Patrasahi, Purunasahi and Dandhrigaon villages also wade through Kalipenu stream or cross it using a rope to reach their agricultural lands on the other side. “Sometimes, when the water is neck deep, we tie an aluminium rope across the ‘nullah’ to cross it or wade through it with the help of rubber tubes,” said Jaykrushna Pujari, a villager of Dharampur. They have been demanding construction of a bridge over the stream but both elected representatives and government officials have turned a deaf ear.
Dharampur, Toperikia, Patrasahi, Purunasahi and Dandhrigaon villages are hardly 10 km away from the main road at Lokebadi but they are separated by Kalipenu stream, which is a tributary of Khadag river. There are over 180 families in these villages who mostly depend on Raikia and K Nuagaon for their daily requirements. These villages have 28 students who are studying in a high school and college located in K Nuagaon and Raikia respectively.
Tipidingia, Madurai, Guduripada, Mugamaha, Bagadi and Dakali villages under Gunjibadi panchayat are located on the other side of the stream and people there also face similar problem.