Villagers in Rayagada threaten to shift to Andhra Pradesh

Rayagada: While several remote pockets of Odisha cry for roads and basic amenities, lack of bridge over Nagabali river is forcing the residents of Anija village located on the bordering areas of Rayagada to think of an alternative. Alleging apathy of the Odisha government, the Anija villagers have now threatened to shift to Andhra Pradesh.

Lack of bridge force the villagers to cross the river on foot or rickety boats to reach the other side of the river to meet all their needs including healthcare facilities. Even children have to cross the river with such hardship to reach their schools. Besides, residents of five nearby villages are forced to cross the river on regular basis.

Locals alleged that despite writing a letter to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for the construction of a bridge over the river, nothing has been done yet in the last five years. With no other alternative, residents of three villages including Anija have now threatened to shift to Andhra Pradesh.

“The concerned department had earlier conducted soil test but the construction work of the bridge is yet to start. The work is repeatedly getting delayed for no reasons. I request the government to hand over these three villages, including Anija to Andhra Pradesh,” said a resident of Anija village, Ramesh Chandra Maredana.

“Women, children and elderly are deprived of medical facilities due to the unavailability of bridge. Children too suffer as they have to cross the river to reach their schools,” lamented another villager, Sushila Mandangi, adding that they are planning to relocate to the neighbouring state of Andhra Pradesh.

On the other hand, officials of Rural Works Department (R&WD) said that the tender was given to a contractor but the work was not taken up by him which is the main reason behind the delay.

“A contractor had taken the tender to build the bridge over Nagabali to Anija village but as he did not take up the work for some reasons, we cancelled the tender. However, a new estimate including GST has been prepared and after the tender process is complete, the construction work will be assigned to another contractor so that the work could begin within two months,” Executive Engineer of Rural Works Department, Pradeep Chandra Mandal said.

Meanwhile, Rural Development Minister Bikram Keshari Arukh assured that appropriate steps will be taken to ensure that the construction of the bridge begins as early as possible. “I will visit the concerned department and take necessary steps to ensure that the construction work begins soon,” Arukh said.