During the monsoon, the one-km stretch connecting Kotraguttu with Pavoor Road is non-existent, forcing people to slosh across the stream.
Seven punishing monsoons. Three deaths. And yet, residents and schoolchildren of Kotraguttu in Amblamogaru Gram Panchayat have to wade through the wild stream every rainy season to get to work and school.
During the monsoon, the one-km stretch connecting Kotraguttu with Pavoor Road is non-existent, forcing people to slosh across the stream – which takes water from Belma, Konaje, and Munnur areas to the sea.
“In the last seven years, we have lost three lives to the stream that flows across the road. Authorities are yet to wake up to our problem,” said Sharada, a resident of Kotraguttu, echoing the view of the 300 families in the village. Seven years ago, Sharada’s brother-in-law, Bhoja, was swept away by the stream. On July 2, Mohammed Ismail Afridi, 13, drowned while crossing the stream.
“Both were swept away from the same spot,” said Sharada. “Bhoja was crossing the stream when the water was around his neck. He was swept away in the evening and his body was found four days later,” she recalls.
It is usual for the people of Kottraguttu to see the stream overrunning the road during the monsoon. “This area turns into an island during rainy seasons and we are cut off for several days,” said Aaisha, another resident. “It’s very risky to cross the stream because of the strong current. We do not know when a new road and a bridge will be built. They are pending for several years,” she said.
A constant worry for the residents is the hardship faced their children, who go to the government school in Ranipura and to colleges in Mangalore.
“We do not allow them to cross on their own. Men carry children on their shoulders and cross the stream,” said Ms. Sharada. “We do not allow our children play anywhere near the stream,” she said. College students, including my daughter, stay at relatives’ place in city till water subsides, she said.
When the road turns “a river”, Kotraguttu residents trek the one-hour road over a hill and several paddy fields to reach Amblamogaru Gram Panchayat from where they get a bus to the city. “This becomes difficult as these fields will be flooded too,” said Askar Ali, a student of Milagres School. If the road were there, it would have taken them only 15 minutes to reach the bus stop.
Crossing the bridge
Sitram Saliyan, president of Amblamogaru Gram Panchayat, said constructing a bridge and raising the level of the road were delayed because of technical reasons. He said the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) has already cleared the proposal. “An earlier proposal, sent four years ago, was stuck down as the estimated amount for laying new road was nearly double the stipulated amount of Rs. 30 lakh,” said Mr. Saliyan and added that local MLA U.T. Khader has forwarded a new proposal to NABARD for construction of bridge and elevated road.
Mr. Khader said NABARD had approved the proposal submitted by the PWD. “It is now in the tender stage. We hope to have the bridge and an elevated road by the start of next monsoon. Residents have to bear with the problem till then,” he said.