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India

They didn’t let their future hang in the balance

The hanging bridge that connected Khandya in Chikkamagaluru taluk and Balaegadde in N.R. Pura taluk collapsed during the recent heavy rains, forcing people and students to use a coracle to cross the Bhadra.

As many as 10 children from Balegadde reach the school at Sangameshwara Pete crossing the river every day.

Heavy rains that lashed parts of Chikkamagluru district in the first two weeks of the month caused severe damage. The bridge, which was built in 2010 at a cost of around ₹44 lakh collapsed as huge trees fell on it. The bridge was built as three persons died after a coracle capsized in the river earlier.

Those who avoid crossing the river by rowing the coracle have to take the long road of 24 km via Balehonnur to reach Sangameshwara Pete.

Nidhi Shree, Sudhanva, Bhuvan, Bindu are among the students of Poornaprajna school in Sangameshwara Pete who commute by coracle every day.

B.M. Ganesh, a resident of Balegadde, said his daughter also commutes by coracle.

“My friend Harish and I row the two coracles we purchased from Bhadravati. We villagers contributed ₹10,000 to procure the coracles,” he said.

Parents hesitant to send the children by coracle are dependant on private vehicles. “Every day the schoolchildren have to commute 48 km to study. Earlier, the distance was only 8 km, including the return journey,” said Satish J., a resident of Balehonnur.

Senior officers, including Deputy Commissioner Bagadi Gautam, visited the place. M.R. Devaraju, Panchayat Development Officer of Devadana Gram Panchayat, on Sunday told The Hindu that “The bridge was about nine years old. It was damaged as heavy trees fell on it during the rains.”

The officer felt that the gram panchayat could not take up the work to restore the bridge as its resources were limited.

The district administration has consulted the company which built the bridge. T.D. Raje Gowda, MLA, had assured the villagers a boating facility. However, the promise is yet to be fulfilled.

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