KORAPUT: Usually, to have a bridge named after you, you need to be a leader, water man or perhaps a famous departed soul. But Anjali Suna, from a tiny village of Tentuliguda near Koraput, has Anjali Setu named after her for none of the above reasons. That too, at a tender age of 14.
Anjali’s fearless voice has been instrumental in getting the bridge constructed over a stream that once separated the village from Koraput municipal limits.
In August 2015, when the stream was in spate after heavy rains, Anjali and her friends were returning home from school in the town. Unaware of Government officials’ visit to the spot, she was telling her friends and wondering if visit of officials would make any difference to the plight of her villagers. Before anyone could ask her to stop, Water Resources Secretary P K Jena, who was there, wanted to listen to her and about her concerns.
Anjali shared the incident of flash flood in the stream when she was among some of the villagers who had got washed away and were rescued by fellow villagers. She also said the flood in the stream stopped them from going to school during rainy season. Her words, “Suffering of villagers can’t be realised by standing on one side of the stream for a few minutes but could be learned by staying for a day or two with them in their village,” touched the Secretary.
The Secretary immediately announced that the bridge would be completed in a short time and would be a mark of recognition to the strong voice of children like Anjali, informed local contractor Pradip Padhi and Assistant Engineer, Minor Irrigation division, AK Patra, who looked over the work.
A bridge constructed earlier had got washed away due to rains and no measures were taken to rebuild another, leaving 30 families stranded during monsoon. As it is a small village with a mere population of 130, there was remote possibility of replacing the wooden bridge with a concrete one. However, Anjali’s boldness proved their fears wrong.
The 50.2 m long, 6.8 m wide and 6.1 m high bridge was completed at a cost of Rs 2.07 crore about a month back, said Patra, adding that it can withstand floods. Elated villagers decided to name the bridge after Anjali.
But, Anjali’s mission did not end with the bridge. A badly damaged 1 km approach road was next on the agenda. She said people have to walk at least 4 km to reach a point from where they could catch an autorickshaw. She wrote to Koraput Municipality Chairman and also to the Prime Minister for meeting the expenses that would be required for the construction of the road.
Municipality Chairman Bhagavan Bahinipati has assured that he will move the authorities concerned for the road work.