Pradeep Pattanayak

Without a cremation ground in their village and the nearest one being on the other side of a river, the residents of Kelar village under Laxmipur block of Koraput district have to cross the river to cremate their near and dear ones. 

The villagers’ problem, perennial in nature, came to the fore once again on Sunday night when an elderly person passed away. 

According to the residents, Kelar village is inhabited by four hundred families, comprising Dalit and Tribal communities. On Sunday night, an elderly person identified as Banchhanidhi Khoishla passed away. Hearing the news, his relatives from nearby villages came to his residence to pay their last respects. 

The same night, the family members decided to perform the last rites. A bier was prepared and the deceased’s friends and relatives carried the body on their shoulders and went to the cremation ground. They had to cross the river to go to the other side to perform the last rites. Some expressed their astonishment over the lack of a bridge on the river. 

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The villagers alleged that they have been demanding for a bridge on the river and have taken the matter up with everyone starting from the panchayat, and block administration to the district administration levels but to no avail. 

“We don’t have a road to the cremation ground. This is the condition of our village even after 25 years of BJD rule. In the absence of a road, we are facing a lot of problems. We are also facing problems in carrying mortal remains to the cremation ground,” rued a villager, Arun Kumar Takri.

(Reported by Giridhar Khora )