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A bridge too far for outsiders in Jamui

The incomplete Badildih bridge across Kiul river in Jamui. Picture by Amit Kumar

Voters in this part of Jamui fear “outsiders” will not be able to build a bridge to understand their needs.

They point to the incomplete Badildih bridge over the river Kiul, which, if completed, would put an end to their woes. But “incompetent” public representatives came in the way and to make matters worse, most parties have, this time, fielded “outsiders”.

Binod Kumar, a young voter at Dipakarhar, asks: “We have to face immense difficulties during the rainy season when the place gets inundated. Are public representatives concerned about us, more so when they are from outside?”

The LJP-BJP has fielded Chirag Paswan, the JD(U) has fielded Assembly Speaker Uday Narayan Chaudhary and the RJD has fielded Sudhansu Shekhar Bhaskar. None of them is from Jamui, which is why the residents wonder if the candidates would bother with the bridge, so central to their needs. None of the party manifestos has any mention of the bridge.

“In the last election, we sent Bhudeo Choudhary of the JD(U) to the Lok Sabha, but since he was an outsider, he did not address our problems and the Badildih bridge could not be completed,” said Mohammad Jafar, a shopkeeper at the nearby Gari market. “How will such outsiders understand our pain,” asked Suman Kumar, a villager at Pratapur.

The concern extends to voters in Karitandi, Mahogro, Rajla, Sirsiya, Jhilar and Pratapur in the Maoist-affected Khaira block of Jamui Lok Sabha seat.

The bridge, 30km south of Jamui and nearly 196km south-east of Patna, has been in focus ever since its foundation stone was laid on February 21, 2006. Its construction was estimated to cost over Rs 6 crore and it would have helped reduce the distance between Jamui and neighbouring Nawada district as well as Giridih in Jharkhand besides providing better communication to people in the region.

Even Jamui police have stressed on the bridge’s importance from the security point of view. Then inspector-general of police, Bhagalpur range, A.K. Ambedkar, had told the home department they face problems chasing rebels who have found a safe corridor in the inaccessible Khaira-Ghutia forest area (in Giridih). “Our problems could be solved with construction of the bridge as forces would then have easy accessibility to Ghutia forest, a safe bastion of the rebels, while also creating a barrier in the rebel corridor,” he had told the department.

Deputy inspector-general of police, Munger zone, Sudhansu Kumar, echoed his former boss. He pointed out the rebels were aware the bridge would end their free run. They often abduct workers and collect heavy ransom from the construction company. On the midnight of January 26 last year, the rebels abducted eight labourers from the bridge construction base camp. The construction company paid ransom and freed the hostages within a week but after that construction work came to a halt.

The bridge would greatly benefit residents of Mahuliatard, Farkipathar, Reheri in neighbouring Nawada district and Ghutia, Manikpur, Jagatpur, Mansinghdih too. “But not a single leader has come here and neither do their manifestos make any mention of Badildih bridge,” said Ramananad Yadav, a government schoolteacher in Jhilar village.