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Thursday, Dec 12, 2019

Only bridge to mainland damaged, 4,500 Punjab villagers left stranded

A pontoon bridge on Ravi river is the only link between eight border villages in Gurdaspur district and the mainland.

chandigarh Updated: Jun 24, 2019 11:00 IST
Kamaljit Singh
Kamaljit Singh
Hindustan Times, Gurdaspur
The pontoon bridge on Ravi river in Gurdaspur district connects 8 villages to the mainland.
The pontoon bridge on Ravi river in Gurdaspur district connects 8 villages to the mainland. (HT Photo )

The people of eight border villages across Makoda Pattan in Gurdaspur district are facing a threat of connectivity loss ahead of the impending monsoon and especially in wake of recent damage to the pontoon bridge on Ravi, the only link between these villages to the mainland.

A part of pontoon bridge was damaged when an army vehicle was passing over the bridge on last Tuesday .

The villages—Toor, Chib, Bharial, Mammi, Chakranga, Kajle, Chumber and Lassian— having a population of around 4,500 have to face hardship when the pontoon bridge is dismantled as part of precautionary measure ahead of the monsoon every year. The bridge will be dismantled on or before June 30 in wake of the monsoon, said Harjot Singh, executive engineer, PWD, Gurdaspur. The move will force the residents of these villages to rely on boats to cross the river for their daily needs. The villagers face risk crossing the river between July and September due to heavy flow of water in the river during the three months.

The residents are forced to lead a miserable life due to connectivity issue challenging these villages. Farmers and labourers are rendered jobless while the students are unable to attend regular classes away from these villages during the rainy season.

Roop Singh, ex-sarpanch of Bharial, said patients needing emergency health care services are the worst sufferers. A concrete bridge across Ravi is the only solution for these villages, he said.

He said that the Border Security Force (BSF) has camps at Nikke, Bharial, Lassian, Tash and Pahadipur Pattan while the army also has its camps at Bharial, Nikke and Lassian in the area. Roop Singh said that the BSF has issued permits to the farmers and labourers who have to go under strict BSF check to attend their fields across the border fencing during fixed hours of the day.

When contacted, Gurdaspur deputy commissioner Vipul Ujwal said that he has written a letter to the army authorities seeking a ‘no objection certificate’ (NOC) for building a bridge across the river. We are awaiting their reply, he said.

Meanwhile, Punjab cabinet minister and Dinanagar MLA Aruna Chaudhary said that the state government has earmarked Rs 100 crore in the budget for various developmental works in the area, including a bridge, across the river at Makoda Pattan.