It is more than three years since the flash floods of June 2013 hit the Pindar valley and left behind a trail of ruins in its wake. The swollen Pindar river not only destroyed hundreds of houses but also washed away 10 bridges in this region.
Two motor bridges are restored but eight hanging bridges are yet to be rebuilt. The poll season came as a boon, with work starting on five hanging bridges in Boragar, Chepnue, Narayanbagar, Bainoli and Bhageru Gadhera. But the progress is only at foundation-level so far.
In the absence of proper bridges, thousands of people living in more than 60 villages are forced to cross the Pindar with the help of manual and hydraulic trolleys. Makeshift structures made of tree trunks and wooden planks are laid on the river bed as the Pindar flows gently in the post-monsoon season. Come monsoon, the swollen river will wash away these structures, leaving the villagers with the option to either cross the river through trolleys or take a long detour to reach the nearest motorable road.
Former pradhan of Lingri village, Rajendra Bhandari is among the many people who requested that relief and restoration work be carried out at the same pace in Pindar Valley as in the case of the more famous Kedarnath Valley.
For more than three years, the Uttarakhand government was indecisive on selecting the agency which would take up the restoration project. According to Sanjay Pandey, executive engineer, Public Works Department, Thrali, the PWD is carrying out the work with financial aid from the World Bank.
Embankments have come up along the river bank at several places for preventing floods, but the safety wall collapsed at Bainoli near Thrali. It has raised a question mark over the quality of work. “The work was completed before I joined this division, so I have nothing to say about it,” executive engineer, irrigation department, VK Maurya said. “The department doesn’t have enough money to rebuild it.”