CUTTACK: Travelling on rickety boats sans life jackets or any other safety measure to cross the Mahanadi river is a necessary evil for residents of Sirlo, Ishani Brahmapur and Maanpur gram panchayats in Nischintkoili block.With the government yet to keep its promise of building a bridge over the river, the villagers have no option but to risk their lives everyday to reach the block headquarters to avail healthcare, education and other necessary facilities.
A look at the boats used by the villagers to cross the river from Sirlo Ghat to Sahukhet Ghat is enough to send shivers down the spine. The rides become riskier during monsoon when the boatmen use long ropes to control the shaky vessels. When asked if the risk is worth taking, the villagers said if they use the road via Raghunathpur and Tarpur, they will have to travel over 45 km to reach Nischintkoili. The boats reduce the distance to the block headquarters to 20 km. They said Cuttack Sadar MLA Chandra Sarathi Behera had assured them to construct a bridge on the river from Sirlo to Sahukhet before elections. Even as the foundation for the bridge was laid around two years back, the project is yet to take off.
Behera said construction of the bridge was supposed to be taken up by the Rural Development department under Biju Setu Yojana and the cap for such projects under the scheme is Rs 30 crore. “But estimation of the project revealed that it will cost Rs 65 crore to build the bridge. Since the Rural Development department cannot implement the project due to its cost, it has been handed over to the Works department,” he said. The legislator said the Works department has already completed soil testing and is likely to float tender for construction of the bridge within two months.