July 25, 2018 2:38:40 am
EXACTLY A year after a flooded Machchhu river cut them off from the rest of the district following extremely heavy rain, residents of Paj village in Wankaner taluka of Morbi district gave themselves a bridge on Tuesday.
The Rs 1-crore bridge, constructed by villagers who are mainly farmers with a little help from the state government, was dedicated to the public by Morbi District Collector R J Makadia.
The bridge across the Machchhu, one of the biggest rivers of Saurashtra, gives Paj all-weather road connectivity to the taluka headquarters of Wankaner via National Highway 27. The village is 12 km south-east of Wankaner town.
“After our village was cut off on July 24 by the swollen river last year, residents decided to take an initiative instead of waiting for the government. Therefore, villagers formed a 13-member committee consisting of five graduates, businessmen and farmers. The apolitical committee decided to construct the bridge with public contributions only. Construction started in December and was completed in 190 days,” Paj sarpanch Usman Mathakiya told The Indian Express.
The Machchhu river flows to the west of the village while Machharo, a tributary of Machchhu, flows from south-east to north-east. When both rivers are in spate, the village becomes an island.
Paj has a population of around 1,200, divided among 165 families.
“We decided to collect Rs 15,000 from each family for the bridge. We welcomed bigger contributions. When we were falling short by a few lakhs, we made a representation to the Morbi district collector, and the collector and DDO allotted Rs 10 lakh,” said Sipai.
Sipai said Ismile Sherashia, a retired deputy executive engineer with the NHAI wing of the Gujarat government and a resident of Sindhavadar village in Wankaner, and Amiyal Badi, who was an engineer with the irrigation department, helped with the design and technical aspects of the bridge, which is 80 metres long.
“We have been making representation to the government since 1995 for good road connectivity. But nothing moved. So villagers thought it necessary to act themselves. The government helped by approving our application for bridge construction within two weeks and then gave the Rs 10 lakh grant,” said Mathakiya.
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