Sunday, June 15, 2008

A tottering lifeline

The New Indian Express, June 14, 2008

KORAPUT: Jolaput bridge, the lifeline of the people of Orissa and bordering villages of Andhra Pradesh awaits repair for the last two years. It was damaged after the release of Jolaput reservoir water in 2006.

For the residents of the two small project towns, the Orissa side called Right Flank (RF) and the AP side Left Flank (LF), the bridge is the only means of communication but in the absence of railings or parapet wall crossing the bridge, for many, is just impossible.

The 150-metre-long bridge was constructed 60 years back as a passage for the residents and traffic when the Machkund project was in progress. Unfortunately half of the bridge was washed away when the damē—“ gates were opened in 2006.

Though the Machkund project is the oldest and the highest profit- making power sector for both the states, earning about Rs 100 crore per annum, the dilapidated bridge continues to be neglected. No government has shown interest in it.

The ITDA of Andhra Pradesh put some wooden logs on the damaged portion of the bridge. Many, fearing for their lives, prefer not to cross the weak structure.

A local resident Udaya Kumar said Oriya and Telugu students are the worst affected. The alternative dam route is far more dangerous, he said.

The two governments should hold talks on repairing the bridge, feel the locals. The residents have threatened to boycott the 2009 general elections if the bridge was not constructed immediately.

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