A year and a half on, wait for new bridge continues

The floods that hit parts of Mudigere taluk twice in two years have left people waiting for relief measures from the government. A bridge, across Hemavati river, near Bankenahalli collapsed in the floods caused by heavy rains in August 2019. Since then, the residents of Bankenahalli, Chegu, Kudige and other nearby villages have lost connectivity to Banakal on the Mangaluru-Villupuram highway (NH-234).

Nandish, a resident of Bankenahalli, told The Hindu, โ€œThe bridge collapsed in the floods in 2019. The locals made a temporary arrangement to cross the river. That too collapsed in the next rains. We have been waiting for a permanent solution for the last 18 months,โ€ he said.

The residents took elected representatives, including MLA M.P. Kumaraswamy and Lok Sabha member Shobha Karandlaje, to task during their visit to the spot last year for the delay in sanctioning a bridge. Following protests by residents, the local administration provided them with a metal footbridge last year to cross the river. However, those people commuting by vehicle have to take a longer route that is in a bad state.

Travel troubles

The growers are finding it difficult to carry their produce. And if somebody falls sick, relatives cannot take them to hospitals within a short period as vehicles cannot cross the river.

Harsha, who runs a homestay at Bankenahalli, said he has had no business for the past two years. โ€œPeople who choose the place to book online avoid it as soon as we inform them that vehicles have to be parked a few meters away and that they have to walk up to the homestay,โ€ he said.

Meanwhile, officials said the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department has decided to take up the construction of the bridge under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY). Somashekhar, assistant executive engineer in charge of PMGSY, said that the Government of India has given approval to take up the construction at a cost of โ‚น3.5 crore.

The Centre and the State would share the project cost at a ratio of 60:40. โ€œNow, the project has to be approved by the State Cabinet. Then we can go for the tendering process,โ€ he said. The official is not sure when the construction will begin. However, the locals are worried that if the construction is delayed further, the next rainy season in four months will hold things up for another year.

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