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Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Putting their lives in jeopardy, residents of several villages in Ambo gram panchayat under Hatadihi block in Keonjhar district are forced to commute on boats due to delay in completion of Ambo-Bato Biju Setu over Baitarani river.

The proposed bridge, which will connect as many as 30 gram panchayats of Keonjhar, Jajpur and Bhadrak districts, is yet to be completed due to alleged official apathy. 

As per reports, the contract agency, in charge of executing the project, has left without completing the project which would have immensely helped thousands of residents of three districts, especially during monsoon. 

With the bridge being left incomplete, many villagers in Hatadihi block have to take a circuitous route to travel to the nearby places which are situated just a few kilometers away.

Without any bus route and the bridge yet to be thrown open to the public, the villagers in the locality, including women and children, are forced to take boat rides, thereby putting their lives in danger.

The foundation stone for the bridge estimated at Rs 35 crore was laid in 2016. Though six years have passed since then, the bridge is yet to be put to use.

The villagers have reportedly informed the district administration about their ordeal several times and requested for the completion of the bridge. However, their request has fallen in deaf ears.

“We have to depend on boats to go to the other side of the river to earn our livelihood. In the rainy season, the situation worsens as the kids and patients have to be carried to their schools and hospitals situated on the other side of the bridge. We have to risk our lives by crossing the river in spate on rickety boats,” said Muralidhar Jena, a villager.

“We have requested the district administration several times to complete the construction of the bridge as soon as possible, but they are not paying any attention to our ordeal,” alleged Pramod Nath, another villager.

Meanwhile, Keonjhar district administration has assured that the construction work of the half-built bridge will be undertaken again.

“We have invited a fresh tender for the construction of the incomplete bridge. Hopefully, the construction work will be finished with the help of another contractor at the earliest, said Anandpur Sub-Collector Gopinath Kuanra.

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