A tightrope walk for river-crossing in Odisha’s Kandhamal, video is viral
After uproar on social media, the administration removed the rope and cable wires which the villagers used to cross the river.Updated: Sep 24, 2020, 23:08 IST
Officials in Odisha’s Kandhamal district on Thursday removed the electric cables and ropes strung across a stream of river that helped over 150 people of a village cross the river after the videos and photos of them precariously perched on aluminium ropes while crossing the stream went viral on social media.
On Wednesday, the photos and videos of poor tribals of Birindipada village of Kandhamal district crossing the Kalipenu stream, tributary of Khadag river, had gone viral on social media with several people slamming the state government over its failure in building a bridge over the river.
One Twitter user name Kishlay Sharma wrote: “Incredible India. Picture from Kandhamal, Odisha. After 20 years of solid development by Naveen Patnaik. Imagine , we Indians take such risks even for basics like going out to market or school. Just imagine.” Another Twitter user named Kasturi Mishra wrote: “The true picture of rural Odisha Kandhamal, when the state government always claims to be number one.”
The videos and photos showed women, elderly persons and youngsters dangerously balancing themselves on the 60-metre long rope while a river was flowing down below.
“It has been our only way of getting to Gunjibadi grampanchayat office for collecting our foodgrains and get several other social assistance schemes. During rainy days as well as other days we use the ropes to get across. But after the video was shown on TV, the local BDO and other officials came today and removed it. We are now helpless,” said Nakula Pradhan, a tribal farmer of Birindapada village.
Sub-collector of Baliguda, Subhankar Mohapatra said as there is a well-connected permanent bridge over Kalipenu river connecting Brindapada village to Gunjibadi grampanchayat, the administration removed the rope and cable wires which the villagers used to cross the river.
“The permanent bridge is only 2 km away from Brindapada. But to cut corners, the villagers are using this unsafe ropeway occasionally. Theropeway has been removed immediately and people asked to use the permanent bridge,” said the sub-collector.
However, the sarpanch of Gunjibadi grampanchayat said the district administration’s advice to the people of Brindapada was not practical as they have to travel 4 km of hilly roads to reach the new bridge that has been constructed 5 years ago.
“From the bridge, they would have to travel another 8 km to reach the gram panchayat office. But if they take the ropeway, they just have to cover less than 4 km to reach the gram panchayat office,” said Gunjibadi sarpanch Lingaraj Pradhan.
Pradhan said it ‘s not just Brindapada, at least 4 more villages in his panchayat faced the same problem of reaching the panchayat office as they have to cross the Kalipenu river. “For over 500 people of Taperikia, Tipidinga, Bagadi and Guduripada villages under Gunjibadi panchayat, ropeway is the only means of getting across the river. Like Bindapada, we have been demanding small bridges across the river near those villages for years together,” he said.
Farmer Prusty Pradhan of Brindapada village said the villagers are well aware of the perils of crossing the river on a cable. “Crossing the river on a rope is a nightmare for us. We carry agricultural and other sundry goods while crossing. At times we carry a patient across the river to the nearest healthcare centre. The government instead of removing the ropes, should build a bridge near our village as we can’t travel long distances to reach the gram panchayat office and hospital,” said Pradhan.
Housewife Lubang Pradhan said she is afraid of crossing the swelling river by holding on to ropes in both her hands. “There have been several incidents of people falling and being swept away while crossing the river. We are always scared,” she said.