Heavy rainfall in the capital over the past two days has sent Rs 10 lakh down the drain. A makeshift bridge over Potpoto river in Boreya that was built with the money two years ago and served as the arterial transport link for 10 villages on the outskirts of Ranchi has been washed away, leaving 20,000-odd people in the lurch.
Everyday, more than 40 school buses carrying children from the suburbs to city schools crossed the bridge. They are now being forced to take a longer route through Kanke.
To add to their woes a superior bridge project, started at an estimated cost of Rs 91 lakh, is pending for two years.
"The arterial link between our villages and the capital has been severed, and the administration is doing nothing. Many people are risking their lives trying to take a short cut through the rough route along the upcoming bridge. Even children are crossing farmlands to avoid being late for school. A mishap can happen anytime," said Paramanand Mahto, a resident of Arsande.
Mahto's village is among the 10 others that are bearing the brunt of an erratic monsoon and an apathetic administration. Besides Arsande, Boreya, Sangrampur, Dubelia, Kume ria and several villages of Kanke block have been affected by the collapse of the makeshift bridge.
The villages in Kanke block are the green bowl of Ranchi district. Vast swathes are under cultivation and the vegetables are supplied to markets in the capital. Locals warned of a vegetable crunch in the wake of the bridge collapse. "The supply of vegetables may take a hit. At present, farmers are taking their produce through Kanke. Some are even crossing farmlands to reach the markets, but they may not do it for long. Transportation cost is higher if you take the longer route," said a villager.
The engineer-in-chief of the rural works department, which is constructing the new bridge, said he would look into the matter. "We will make an alternative arrangement very soon," Jay Prakash said. But there seem to be few takers for his assurances, particularly when the construction of the new bridge on Potpoto river is pending for two years.
The project deadline, sources said, had expired a year ago, but the work is not even half done. Villagers may have to wait for another monsoon before they can enjoy a smooth ride over Potpoto.
Till then, it will be an arduous — often precarious — journey to the capital to make a living for these villagers, most of whom are farmers.
© The Telegraph / July 14, 2009