Students, residents walk the plank every day
MOHAMMAD MAJID MALIK
DODA: A wooden plank on a roaring stream is the lifeline of several villages in Shingani area in Bhalessa Doda district.
Just a few kilometers from Gundoh, students from about a dozen villages carry their bags on shoulders and cross the river by walking the log.
“With no concrete foot bridge in our area, we are forced to cross the swallowing river with bags on our heads by walking on logs. Even teachers have to carry the mid-day meal on their head while crossing the river. Sometimes, the water is knee-deep,” a student from the area said.
He said they skip the school during rains or when water level rises in the river.
“We use wooden plank to cross this Nallah which is very risky. Sometimes our bags drop in the water and we have to go back home. Both boys and girls are scared to cross. If there is rain, we skip school due to risk of slipping,” another student said.
LIFE IN BHALESSA
The risk of slipping on the log increases in rain, and even in fog, but the residents have no choice. Crossing the river is the only way to go shopping, schools , college or meet friends and relatives who live in other villages across the Shingani river.
A number of students go to Govt High School Bharthi, GHSS Gowari, GHS School Kilhotran and Degree College Kilhotran, and all lie across the stream.
“We are forced to live the life our parents used to live as there is no change in terms of roads, medical facility, electricity and potable drinking water. Since decades, neither our elected representatives nor government in power took stock of our situation,” said Sanjay Manhas a resident of Bhalessa.
Parents are concerned about the safety of their children and want government to construct an iron bridge.
“The matter has been taken up several times with the concerned authorities but due to their casual approach, the residents of the area have suffered a lot,” he said.