After The Sunday Express reported about the plight of about 125 Gujarat students who, in the absence of a river bridge, swim daily to reach school, the authorities have sprung into action.
On Sunday, this paper had reported that 125 students of 16 villages of Chhota Udepur district swim across the Hiran River daily to get to their government school in Utavadi village in Tilakwada taluka of Narmada district. The district administration met villagers on Sunday to discuss the issue of the construction of the elusive bridge that the locals have been petitioning for.
The District Development Officer of Chhota Udepur, accompanied by a local Mamlatdar and the Deputy Engineer of the Roads and Buildings department of the district, met the village panchayat of five villages to assure them that the bridge was on its way.
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Despite their weekly off, officials met the village panchayat of Chamarwada, Sajanpura, Vasan, Doodhpur and Angari villages to discuss the construction of the bridge that will eventually connect Chamarwada to Kareli in Narmada district across Hiran river.
Villagers said officials promised that the construction would begin as soon as the state government released the grant of Rs 13.5 crore, sought by the district administration on March 20, 2014.
Bhailal Baria from Sajanpura, who was part of the meeting, said, “They have also shown us papers of the process that is under way. The officers have said that the district has already requested the state government to release the Rs 13.5 crore fund to build the 600-meter bridge between Chamarwada and Kareli so that the students do not have to swim through the water. The state government will release the funds soon, they have promised.”
According to Baria, the construction of the bridge would reduce the commuting time as well as distance to the primary and secondary school located in Narmada district. “Currently, our children swim to the banks of Sewada village from where Utavadi is another 4-5 kilometers walk. The bridge will take the children to Kareli, which will be closer to Utavadi and the distance will also be reduced by almost 4 kilometers.”
The sarpanch of five of the 16 villlages, Ramabhai Tadvi, discussed with officers the possibility of expediting the construction of the bridge. For the last seven years, locals have been petitioning authorities to construct a river bridge to connect the villages of Narmada with Chhota Udepur across Hiran River. Jenu Devan, Chhota Udepur Collector, could not be reached for comment.