Even as the portable steel bailey bridge over river Kerlema under Jingiriguda panchayat here was inaugurated six months back, it is yet to be put into use. For, there are no approach roads to the bridge.
The bridge was constructed under the Integrated Action Plan scheme by the Integrated Tribal Development Agency of Balliguda at an estimated cost of Rs 1.7 crore. It is 150 feet in length.
In February, MP Rudra Madhab Roy while opening the bridge for public had assured to complete the approach roads within a short time to solve the communication problem. Work on the roads, however, is yet to take off. Villagers alleged that after inauguration of the bridge, no step has been taken to connect it with approach roads despite repeated appeals to the authorities concerned.
Sources said while construction of the approach road to the bridge over river Tikapata in Dakerbadi panchayat started at a cost of Rs 6 lakh last month, that on river Kerlema has not started. Daringibdi BDO Sailendra Jena said construction of approach road river Kerlema will begin soon.
Till a year back, commuting was a nightmare for people of Jingiriguda and Dakerbadi panchayats in Daringibdi block. Parallel ropes tied to tree trunks or logs on either side of the Kerlema and Tikapata rivers were considered the lifeline for more than 10,000 people of these panchayats.
Thousands of people crossed the rivers by walking on wires and precariously holding on to the ropes. From children to the old, the rope was the only means of communication to cross the rivers, either to reach a school or market or hospital.
Since no contractor came forward to construct bridges over these rivers due to Maoist threat, the district administration decided to construct portable bailey bridges. The bridges have been designed on unit construction principle with the base unit being on a 10-foot-long bay. These bays when assembled give rise to bridges of different lengths. Such bridges can be shifted from one place to another.
The bridges were procured from Kolkata-based Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE), a Central Government undertaking under the Ministry of Defence and considered a pioneer in the manufacture of such bridges. “Apparently, the bridge design was developed during World War II to facilitate movement of troops,” said Project Director of District Rural Development Agency (DRDA), Sailendranath Dwivedi. He added that the load carrying capacity of these bridges was around 30 to 35 tonnes and there will not be any problem even if trucks ply on them.