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Abandoned bridge project forces villagers in Katigorah to stake lives while crossing Gumrah river

In a harrowing revelation, the residents of Khelma Part II, Khelma Part III, Leverputa Colony, Saraspur and Mahadevpur Part IV villages, situated within the Katigorah Assembly Constituency, located in Cachar district, are enduring perilous river crossings due to the unfulfilled promise of a bridge. These villages, consisting of approximately 10,000 individuals including young students, have long relied on makeshift thermocol rafts or wading through knee-deep waters with slippers and shoes in hand to transport essential commodities and access education.

The villagers informed our correspondent about a foundation stone as well as an information plaque that was laid for the construction of a bridge in the area, initiated by the former Katigorah MLA, Amar Chand Jain three years back. The information plaque has been lost to floods that occurred around a year back, and despite three years having passed, construction of the bridge has not commenced even for once.

During the dry winter season, crossing the Gumrah river on foot is relatively easier as water levels recede. However, during the rainy season, the villagers are compelled to cross the river in precarious boats, jeopardising their lives. Numerous accidents have also been reported, adding to the ordeal. This situation has led to young students forgoing their education during the monsoons, severely impeding their learning and character development when the Assam Government as well as the Central Government ironically claims to make education free and accessible for everyone between the ages of 6-14 years under the Right to Free & Compulsory Education Act, 2009. If primary level education is indeed made free and accessible for everyone then shouldn’t the government pave the way to ensure that there’s no hindrance for a student to reach his/her school?

The villagers have expressed their frustration with the authorities, particularly the Public Works Department (PWD), questioning why the bridge project has languished for three years despite the ceremonial foundation stone laying. They have issued a stern warning of an indefinite hunger strike should immediate action not be taken by the concerned authorities to rectify the situation.

This perilous river crossing, due to the bridge’s delay, is a pressing concern that demands swift attention to ensure the safety and welfare of the affected communities.

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