Ever heard of people climbing a ladder to reach a modern bridge constructed in pre-stressed concrete for crossing rivers?

But, this is a sheer reality in the rural reaches of Venpala in Thiruvalla taluk where the hapless villagers, including women, children and the elderly, are left with little option but to use the bridge with the help of a steel ladder.

Thanks to the alleged bane of extreme maladministration with the departments of Revenue and Public Works, leaving the bridge constructed a year ago in a sorry state.

The Kerala State Construction Corporation had constructed the concrete bridge structure sans approaches across river Manimala in March, 2013.

The Corporation had engaged an Ernakulam-based private group for the civil work.

Completed work

The private company had completed construction of the bridge having three spans, spending Rs.3 crore.

However, the company had stopped the work abruptly, as the Revenue authorities reportedly failed to facilitate the land required for constructing the bridge approaches.

The villagers, under the aegis of the People’s Action Council, have repeatedly sought intervention of the Chief Minister, Revenue Minister, and the Public Works Minister in the matter but to no avail.

Meanwhile, the grama panchayat had provided them with a steel ladder to reach the bridge, thereby avoiding the small panchayat ferry to cross the river, in May 2013, said Shibu John, action council leader.

Failing to get justice from the government, a villager, Ammini John, had moved the Kerala State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) on behalf of the villagers, alleging criminal negligence on the part of the authorities concerned leading to inordinate delay in completing the bridge work.

Mr John said as many as 12 families had agreed in writing to the PWD that they were willing to provide land for constructing the bridge approaches.

But, the Revenue authorities had not yet taken steps to acquire the land to facilitate construction of the bridge approaches, he alleged.

Disposing of the petition on May 27, the SHRC Chairman, J.B. Koshy, directed the Revenue department and the PWD to take immediate steps to acquire the land and complete the bridge approaches in a time-bound manner.

However, Mr John alleged that the authorities concerned were yet to act on the SHRC order for reasons best known to them.

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