The alternative route by land from Holekudige village of Chikkamagaluru district, too, has been encroached by a sprawling estate.

With no bridge or road these Ktaka villagers travel in coracle to cross river each day
news Infrastructure Sunday, September 01, 2019 - 10:24

On Wednesday, 29-year-old Raghavendra, who was suffering from jaundice, was declared dead by a hospital in Mangaluru. To perform his last rites, the family had to take the body to their native at Holekudige village in Mudigere, Chikkamagaluru district, which is about 165 kms from Mangaluru. 

However, in order to take Raghavendra’s body to his village, his family had to travel 1 km through River Bhadra in a coracle. According to the residents, the village has never seen a bridge. As a result, the locals have to row about 1 km to access the mainland on any given day.

“This has been our life for close to three decades now. There is neither a bridge to cross the river nor proper road connectivity to reach the village, without taking any risks. We have been depending on the coracle for decades,” Chetan, a neighbour of Raghavendra, told TNM.


Raghavendra's body being carried across the river in a coracle

For about 20 families of Holekudige village, the monsoon’s fury means being cut-off from rest of the word. The locals claimed that the monsoon season has, time and again, has exposed the lack of road connectivity in the Malnad area of Chikkamagaluru. “When the river is in spate during heavy rainfall, we cannot even cross the river even using coracle. Even children are unable to attend the schools for several days,” Kumar, another resident added.

There is an alternative route via land, which passes through their village and connects to the nearby Magundi village. However, this route, the locals say, has been encroached by an influential estate owner. The sprawling estate has a fence extension that blocks the route completely. “If we had access through this route, we could have reached Magundi and subsequently to other locations,” says Kumar.

Residents said that their repeated pleas to the district administration and taluk authorities for road connectivity to the village have not yielded any result. No action has also been taken by the successive governments to build a bridge.

“We have repeatedly brought it to the notice of the government agencies, including the Forest Department, but they don’t seem to show any will at all in reclaiming the land,” a local resident said.

Ultimately, the villagers have taken the matter to the jurisdictional court.

Deputy Commissioner of Chikkamagaluru Bagadi Gautham reiterated that on previous occasions, the Forest Department told the owner of the estate to vacate the land. “But the owner had obtained a ‘stay order’ from the jurisdictional court against clearing the encroachment. Unless the stay is lifted, we will not be able to take action against the landlord,” he told TNM.

While recollecting how an old man was made to sit on the plastic chair and was taken in a coracle to reach the hospital for treatment, Chetan adds, “Our condition is pathetic; we wonder about our independence, what have we attained from freeing ourselves from British 72 years ago? Our elected representatives continue to neglect our basic requirements and force us to face unseen eventualities and threat each day.”

When TNM contacted Mudigere MLA MP Kumaraswamy, he said that he is in discussion with the local authorities and the state government to make temporary arrangement for the villagers. “The plan is to draw a hanging bridge over the Bhadra river. This bridge would connect them from Holekudige village to the nearby Vannekoodige settlement near Horanadu (which is about 1.5 kms from the mainland),” he said.

Story by Story Infinity (Subs and Scribes Media Ventures LLP.)

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