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A distant dream for tribals?

V. Chalapathi Rao

CPI(M) to launch protest for a bridge

VIZIANAGARAM: River Nagavali divides Komarada, the mandal headquarters village, in the Agency. While nine panchayats are to the East of the river the government offices, primary health centre and bank are on the West.

The river will remain in spate from July to December. Locals generally operate rafts to transport men and material. They dare not venture into the river when it is in spate. Though the other bank is clearly visible to naked eye, the tribals, during the peak monsoon, have to travel 60 km via Peda Merangi in Kurupam mandal to reach Komarada.

Tribals, not only from these nine panchayats but also from other areas have to bring forest produce for sale to the weekly shandy at Cooneru.

Moreover, they have relations in Kurupam, G.L.Puram and Jiyyammavalasa mandals. To visit them, they have to face the ordeal.

Assurance

According to unofficial reports three persons washed away in floods to the river last year. In 1995, some 32 people drowned when the raft overturned in the swirling waters. After the tragedy, former Home Minister T. Devender Goud visited the area and promised a bridge across the river at Poornapadu-Labesu, the narrow point of the river. The assurance has not so far materialised.

The Left parties identified the problem and launched an agitation. Following protests, former Collector Rajat Kumar sent a proposal on the need for a bridge. When the issue was raised in Assembly, the Government, in 2004, agreed to construct the bridge and sanctioned Rs 3.25 crores.

On the eve of local body elections, Minister for Forest S. Vijayarama Raju laid the foundation stone but the work has not begun so far. There was no response from contractors to the bids called for, CPI (M) district secretary M. Krishna Murty said.

To bring pressure on the government once again, the CPI (M) has decided to launch mass protests on February 18.

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