Pontoon bridge gone, now locals have only boats to cross river | punjab | Hindustan Times
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Pontoon bridge gone, now locals have only boats to cross river

The island, comprising of 16 villages, has a primary and secondary school but both without basic facilities. Residents have been demanding a permanent bridge for the area, but the plea seems to fall on deaf ears.

punjab Updated: Jul 14, 2017 09:05 IST
Jatinder Mahal
Villagers crossing the river on a boat in Kapurthala’s Sultanpur Lodhi sub division on Thursday.
Villagers crossing the river on a boat in Kapurthala’s Sultanpur Lodhi sub division on Thursday.(HT Photo)

Three months on, over 5000 residents in Mand area of Sultanpur Lodhi subdivision also called ‘Mini Sri Lanka’ of Punjab, are facing difficulties due to pontoon bridge dismantling. Even for routine affairs like going to school, hospital and household work the locals have to travel by boats to reach their destination.

The island, comprising of 16 villages, has a primary and secondary school but both without basic facilities. Residents have been demanding a permanent bridge for the area, but the plea seems to fall on deaf ears.

In the Secondary School, Baupur there are only two teachers for 130 students against. The Government Primary School is on the verge of closure with the strength of below 50 students. Farmer Harcharn Singh, 64, said, “Due to poor education quality here, our children go to the private school, but after crossing the river.”

“Owing to the government’s lackadaisical attitude we travel by a three-year-old wooden boat without any security measures,” he added.

President Kissan Sangarsh Committee, Paramjit Singh said, “The administration provided us with an aluminium boat last week but it is small and has a capacity for only five people at a time. The boat even sunk when we tried to travel.”

He said, “In 2013, seven people died after drowning while crossing the river but then also the government failed to take any action.”

The then chief minister Parkash Singh Badal had also promised to build a bridge in 2011 but nothing has been done so far.

Congress MLA Cheema said, “I have taken up the matter with chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh and a bridge in the area will soon be constructed.”

Sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) Charumita Shekhar said, “We have written to the state government to provide funds for the same. For now, an aluminum boat has been given to the villagers.”