Odisha: Despite no bridge, anganwadi worker's commitment ensures students cross the river

One is that of development paradox in a mineral-rich block of Sundargarh district. Two, an anganwadi worker’s unwavering commitment to the children she serves. And the second one matters.

Published: 15th July 2022 07:24 AM  |   Last Updated: 15th July 2022 07:24 AM   |  A+A-

Children of Gopisahi await to be carried to other side of the nullah, in Koida

Children of Gopisahi await to be carried to other side of the nullah, in Koida. (Photo| EPS)

Express News Service

ROURKELA: Salmani Munda wading through thigh-deep water of a flooded Suna 'nullah' with two kids clasped in both her arms to reach the anganwadi centre (AWC) on the other side could be seen in two perspectives.

One is that of development paradox in a mineral-rich block of Sundargarh district. Two, an anganwadi worker's unwavering commitment to the children she serves. And the second one matters.

The 30-year-old Salmani, who hails from Gopisahi hamlet of Koida block performs this task on all working days by helping a dozen children reach the AWC so that they do not miss their classes. Salmani and the 12 kids reside on same part of the hamlet on the other side of the water channel.

Gopisahi hamlet of Oraghat village under Malda Gram Panchayat is divided by the Suna 'nullah' which remains dry throughout the year. Except for the monsoon season when the channel swells making it impossible for the little ones to cross over. 

That leaves Salmani with the onerous task of carrying the anganwadi children on rotation to the other side. There are times when other village women also volunteer to help. "I am compelled to do this because the children should not miss attending the anganwadi activities for the three monsoon months," she said.

What about the risks associated with a flooded nullah? Salmani says she enters the water only when it is below the waist level. Interestingly, the Koida Mining Circle (KMC) contributes maximum royalty to the Sundargarh District Mineral Foundation (DMF) and construction of a bridge should not be a big affair.

Sundagarh District Committee Member of CPM Pravat Panda claimed a mining company had granted about Rs 40 lakh several years ago for construction of a bridge on Suna 'nullah'.

But the money was diverted to other works with the Forest department not allowing work on its revenue forest land. He points out that the district administration continues to remain apathetic towards the suffering of the villagers during the monsoon months. 

Meanwhile, Bonai Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Sanath Kumar could not be reached for a comment on the issue.
 



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