RAYAGADA: Even as work on a permanent bridge over river Vansadhara at Gumuda under Ramnaguda block is continuing for the last eight years, the Rayagada administration on Sunday opened a temporary wooden bridge over the river for the convenience of locals. The fair-weather wooden bridge is 600 metres in length.
Constructed in 1980, Gumuda bridge, a major route of communication on Bhubaneswar-Koraput State Highway via Berhampur, was washed away in 2007 flash floods. Though the authorities had promised to rebuild the bridge within three years, it is yet to be completed. The bridge, when completed, will facilitate direct communication from Bhubaneswar to the district.
The Public Works Department (PWD) constructs a temporary wooden bridge over the river every year which is used by the locals for four months in a year from January till rainy season. The temporary bridge this year has been built at a cost of `14.69 lakh, said Executive Engineer of the department, Gaurang Charan Sahu.
On the other hand, the delay in reconstruction of 720-metre-long Gumuda bridge has been affecting around 10,000 villagers in the area and the local economy.
Prior to the damage of the bridge, a community consisting of around 150 members used to cycle to the nearby villages to sell clothes everyday. But without the bridge, the community along with other petty businessmen has lost its source of income and completely vanished from the region. Many have shifted to other areas. The most affected villages are Karini, Philingrai, Jayantpur, Bichikota, Antarjholi, Dharapur and Radu.
Sources said around 70 to 80 buses were operating via Gumuda on the route. Now, only seven buses including one of the OSRTC ply on the route. Most of the buses and other vehicles coming from Bhubaneswar to the district have to take a diversion via Kenduguda-Padmapur-Gunupur, covering an extra distance of around 32 km.
Cargo vehicles prefer the Andhra Pradesh route via Parvatipuram to reach Rayagada. Due to the detour, transport and cargo vehicles are skipping the stop at Gumuda adding to the woes of locals. The residents are denied of transport facilities and prices of essential commodities have shot up.
Tender for construction of the permanent bridge was floated in 2009 and ARSS company won the bid. Initially, the estimated cost of the bridge was `26 crore but increased to `46 crore later. As per the tender agreement, the company was to complete the bridge by December, 2011. Four years have passed since the set deadline, construction work is still on.
Supervising Junior Engineer of the project, Sunil Padhi said the company has sought extension up to June 2016.
The company has so far completed 10 out 16 spans of the permanent bridge.