Mrunal Manmay Dash

The lifeline of Swabhiman area, Gurupriya bridge at Chitrakonda in the left-wing extremism-hit Malkangiri district has been reportedly under darkness for the last three days.

Street lights on and around the bridge have gone kaput because of a power failure in the area leading to resentment among the locals.

The 910-meter-long bridge which was inaugurated in July 2018 by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, joined the cut-off areas of Chitrakonda reservoir with the mainland Odisha.

It is pertinent to mention here that Maoists opposed the construction of the project. With the left-wing extremists still active in the area, the locals do not feel safe in the darkness who alleged power failures are a regular affair in this area.

“We have seen power failures for at least 50 times since the inauguration of the bridge. Sometimes, the power goes out for five days and no employee of the energy department comes to repair it. The administration never listens to our requests to provide uninterrupted power supply,” alleged a local, Ratan Saha.

Another local Balram Padhihary said, “Two BSF soldiers are manning each end of the bridge. But they cannot do much if the Maoists try to do violence in this darkness.”

Asked about the delay in repair works, the Assistant Engineer of the power department Sushant Jena said, “We have sent a team to check the bridge. It seems an earth fault. The problem will be resolved by tomorrow and the power will be restored soon."

The foundation stone for the bridge was laid in 1982 by the then Chief Minister, JB Patnaik and again by Naveen Patnaik in 2000.