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Sharmili Mallick

Kendrapara: Tag them the bravest... 40-odd students of Ekamania High School in Aul block here who are appearing for the matriculation exam this year are left with two communication modes, or may be one, to reach their exam centre -- either wade through the crocodile-filled Brahmani River or take the dangerous ferry ride to travel to the other side the river.

With no other means to reach their exam centre Shri Jagannath High School at Keredagada village under Rajnagar block,  these 40 students have to wade through knee-deep mud or take rickety boat ride to sail to the other side of the river to appear their examination.

Narrating the horrifying moments, a student Archana Behera of Ekamania High School said, “Our clothes get wet every time we wade through the river. By the time I reach the exam centre, it feels cold and it's even more uncomfortable to sit in the exam hall in that condition. We are scared to cross the river like this as there are many crocodiles in the river. I request the concerned administration to construct a bridge over the river. I also urge to grant us permission to attend the examination in our high school only.”

Another student Julita Biswal said, “Our dress gets muddy. We face much difficulty in crossing the river because of which often we have reached the examination centre late. We cannot even study well with the fear that we have to cross the river. I request the government to build a bridge which will benefit all of us.”

“At times when boats are not available, I wade through chest-deep water to reach the exam centre and there are also crocodiles in the river which is scary,” told Kanha Behera.

Not only Ekamania, the students in the neighbouring Dakhinadi and Nalapai villages are also grappling with similar situation since years. Despite their parents repeatedly urging before the administration to change the examination centre, nothing has been done so far.

The locals had also been demanding construction of a bridge over the Brahmani River, however, this appeal has also remained unheard.

“The administration is just delaying the matter by giving assurances. Even after repeated requests, the construction of bridge is yet to start. If a bridge is constructed here, many villagers including the students will be benefited,” alleged one Anjan Rout.

Meanwhile, Kendrapara District Collector Dashrathi Satpathy said, “We have made all necessary arrangements so that all these students attend their examination without any hassle. I will further direct the District Education Officer to carry out a field investigation and take adequate steps in this regard.”

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