Frustrated at years of government apathy, two individuals in Odisha have set examples for others by building an equal number of bridges across rivers to provide succour to fellow villagers from age-old miseries.
While Gangadhar Rout is the resident of a village in Keonjhar district on the northern flanks of Odisha, Shyamadhar Majhi lives in a hamlet in the southern Rayagada district of the State.
For much of his life, the lack of a bridge across Salandi river near Kanpur village under Anandpur Block rankled Rout who is a retired livestock inspector.
While Salandi is the lifeline for many farmers living on its well-irrigated banks in Keonjhar, the lack of a bridge made the residents of Kanpur village to face daily hassles in getting to the other side of the river. Thanks to Rout’s determination, the inconveniences have become a thing of the past.
He spent more than Rs 25,00,000 from his retirement kitty to build a 250 ft long bridge to connect his village to the outside world. He has also constructed an approach road connecting the bridge from his own savings.
“The problems faced by my villagers in the absence of a bridge perturbed me a lot. I decided to spend my entire savings to build a bridge so that they could get some relief. My family backed my decision. Now the bridge will connect our village with other Panchayats,” said Rout.
Villagers of Kanpur hail Rout as the hero of the village.
“He is indeed a role model for everyone in the district. All of us are grateful and indebted to him,” said Chaitanya Mohapatra, a villager.
In a similar instance, when the Rayagada district administration turned a blind eye to the woes of Godibali villagers despite repeated requests for a bridge to remain connected to Kashipur block, Shyamadhar Majhi decided to take up the responsibility on his own.
Majhi, who is a Gram Rozgar Sevak, has so far spent around Rs 3,00,000 from his own pocket to construct the bridge where works are still on.
In the meantime, villagers have put up wooden logs on the concrete poles of the half-built bridge to cross the river.
The villagers are profuse in their gratitude towards Majhi. However, they have put forward a demand for an approach road before the district administration.
“The district administration should take steps to construct an approach road to the bridge for enabling movement of vehicles,” said a villager.
Meanwhile, Rayagada Sub-Collector Pratap Chandra Pradhan said the district administration is aware of the problems faced by the villagers.
“Necessary steps will be taken on a priority basis for the construction of an approach road,” said Pradhan.