Pradeep Pattanayak

Residents of Kayalapada gram panchayat under Choudwar block on Saturday night chose a unique way to protest against the administration turning a deaf ear to their demand of illuminating the Madhu Setu bridge constructed on river Mahanadi

Spending a whopping Rs 150 crore, the government constructed Madhu Setu bridge on river Mahanadi. It took four years for the completion of the construction work. The bridge was then officially opened for public. However, the administration has allegedly not taken any step for illuminating the bridge. 

As a result, the stretch remains in utter darkness and ultimately has turned into a safe haven for anti socials elements. While accidents are occurring on a daily basis on this bridge, crimes like snatching are being reported every alternate day, the residents alleged.
Because of this, many feel unsafe to commute on the bridge after sunset.  The residents have been demanding steps for illumination of the bridge but to no avail. 

With no option left, the villagers on Saturday chose a unique way to make their demand heard louder. Hundreds of villagers came onto the bridge, carrying lanterns in their hands. They staged a protest demonstration on the bridge. 

“Four years have passed since the completion of this bridge at a project cost of Rs 150 crore. But no step has so far been taken to illuminate the bridge. We on behalf of the Panchayat had made some arrangements and installed bulbs and CCTV cameras. But the situation is same again.  Since Bali Yatra and Bada Osha are ahead, we demand early steps for illumination, or else we will intensify our agitation,” said an agitating villager. 

Another woman agitator said, “My two nephews met with an accident on this bridge due to darkness. They have been recently discharged after undergoing two months of treatment at the hospital. Apart from accidents, all sorts of criminal activities are taking place on the bridge.”

(Reported by Prakash Kumar Nayak)