Almost all the villages in the Bhamragad division of Gadchiroli district remain cut off for more than three days now due to inundation of the bridge which connects Bhamragad to the rest of the district.
As a result, top police and CRPF officials who were on a special operation in Bhamaragad division have been held up there.
“We have very few vegetables and ration stock left in Bhamragad and due to flooded bridge, no help is coming from Gadchiroli” Deputy Sarpanch of Bhamragad Kushal Madavi told The Hindu over phone.
According to villagers, unless and until a new and bigger bridge is built, Bhamragad will continue to suffer.
“Most of time during rainy season, Bhamaragad division is cut off from the rest of the Gadchiroli district due to inundation of the bridge on the river Pamulgoutam “says Bahadur, who runs a kiosk in Bhamaragad. “If one vehicle is passing from the one side, no vehicle can come from the other side” he added.
“When Vilasrao Deshmukh visited Bhamragad, he had declared that a bigger and much broader bridge would be built in the place of the small bridge. We were told that the plan for construction of the bridge was sanctioned, but there seems to be no development on it” said Jakir Hussain , a former Zila Parishad member who had recently tendered his resignation due to “ lack of developmental activities in the area”.
“There are more than 250 police and CRPF personnel stationed permanently at Bhamragad police station and around 200 personnel at Lahiri village, which is 15 km away from Bhamragad. What if there is a major encounter in the area during rainy season. The only way to send reinforcement would be by helicopter” says a CRPF Jawan on the condition of anonymity.
A CRPF official posted in this area told The Hindu,” You can see how small the road is. The bridge is in pathetic condition. The government should provide good facilities to this sensitive area. Road connectivity is the basic minimum requirement in such sensitive areas as you can see Bhamragad is surrounded by Bastar and Dantewada is also not far from here”.
When asked if the Naxals are not allowing the bridge construction, one villager said, “Why is the government there for? If they can build the bridge on the Lahiri- Bhamaragad road, why can’t they do it here”.
According to PWD engineer Mr. Mabale, the construction of the bridge was proposed “but it has not been sanctioned yet”.
“The bridge connecting Lahiri to Bhamragad was built by the Border Road Organization (BRO) and for this construction, a special CRPF camp was put up near the site of the construction” he added.
Some villagers accepted that the Naxals won’t allow the construction of a bigger bridge. “Only BRO can build the bridge because no private contractor would dare to take contract of this construction” said Kushal Madavi.