Despite bridge proposal from many years, no sign of bridge construction in Banahatti.
Hanumantha Jhare is a student in Banahatti. He lives in Maheshwadgi and every day he waits for an hour or two to get to Banahatti side from boat which is on the other side of Krishna river. It takes one hour to reach Banahatti from the road but it takes only two minutes from the boat if the boat is completely filled.
“There are two boats for both the shores of the river. We cross the river when both the boats are completely filled. The people have to wait for thirty minutes to two hours depending on the time of the day. Apart from the morning time, the waiting time is at least one hour. We cross the river 5 to 6 times a day. The first crossing is at 8 in the morning and the last crossing is 6 in the evening.” said Prakash S, boat driver.
Hanumantha reaches to board boat 8 in the morning every day. His classes start at 10 in the morning. Sometimes it just takes one minute to fill the boat completely as a lot of people like Hanumantha waits to go to another side, most of which are students, farmers, businessmen, patients, etc while sometimes it takes an hour to fill the boat.
“In the night, our village is completely isolated. We do not have any access to hospitals. We have to go either Athni taluka or Banahatti for hospitals. Due to the Krishna River and vast flora and fauna, our area has a lot of snakes. Last year three people died in the night due to snake bites. Till we reached the hospital, they could not keep their breath. Similarly, six other people died in the night due to health problems because hospitals are very far by road and boat does not operate at night. If the bridge is made, it will take only ten minutes for us to reach the hospital and many lives can be saved.” said KS Natraj, member of Gram Panchayat of Maheshwadgi.
There was a bridge allocated on the site two years ago, but it is still not made. However, the current MLA of Banahatti put all the blame on the contractor for not making the bridge. Mr. Sidhu Savadhi, MLA of Banahatti, said, “The work order was given to the contractor, but the contractor is not starting the work due to lack of interest. The tender was allocated in Siddaramaiyah government. I do not have much idea about the project. Neither the officials nor the contractor came to meet me regarding the project. If it needs to be started, then it is the right time to start the project because Krishna River’s flow will be less in the next four months. I will talk to the executive engineer and other people involved in the project.”
“The inauguration of the bridge was done before elections and even before allocating the tender. That was a completely political move, so Inauguration here does not mean the bridge construction is started. We surveyed the site and given the design to Executive Engineer of PWD. There is a jack well at the location of the bridge. If the bridge needs to be made on the same place then the jack well needs to be shifted otherwise bridge alignment should be changed. Now the Financial commission needs to give the funds for shifting of jack well or change in alignment, and they have to decide for the option, but they are not releasing the funds as well as the decision on the option for which they will go.” said, Venugopal R, Site Engineer, Nagarjuna Construction Company, Hyderabad.
Manohar Vaddar, Executive Engineer, PWD Bagalkot, said “We are surveying the site, there are some problems of land acquisition on the site and we are getting to the best possible solution to make the bridge. The allocation for the bridge was twenty-five crore rupees but it is exceeding the amount. Now the fund allocation is dependent on state financial commission. As soon as they allocate the funds, we will proceed further with the project.”
Everyone is blaming one another, but it is Hanumantha and other thousands of people, who are suffering every day due to unavailability of the bridge. The unavailability of the bridge is causing many social and economic problems in the area like lack of mobility, poverty, isolation, lack of healthcare and education, trade deficit, etc.