River crossing still a nightmare for pilgrims

River crossing still a nightmare for pilgrims
Highlights

The nightmare of Singotam Jatara during 2007 is still hunting the people of two Telugu speaking states. The tragedy occurred on January 19, 2007 due to capsizing of a boat in Krishna River which claimed 61 lives.

No bridge even a decade after a boat tragedy

Kurnool: The nightmare of Singotam Jatara during 2007 is still hunting the people of two Telugu speaking states. The tragedy occurred on January 19, 2007 due to capsizing of a boat in Krishna River which claimed 61 lives. People were returning to their native place in Andhra Pradesh after enjoying the Singotam Jatara at Kolhapur constituency in Telangana State.

The government had assured that a bridge would be constructed over Krishna taking in to consideration the boat tragedy that claimed a high number of lives, which is considered to be the highest one in the history of united Andhra Pradesh. Despite having no alternative transportation, people have to take the boats to cross the river risking their lives.

People in thousands are once again making their way to the Singotam Jatara which is due to be held from Wednesday (Jan 18) and this will end on Friday (Jan 20). Over three lakh people are expected to attend the three day Jatara from the two Telugu Speaking states. People from 100 villages from Nandikotkur Assembly constituency in Kurnool district used to visit the Jatara during this period by crossing the river.

Apart from taking a boat to cross the river, visitors can also take a bus, but for the people of AP it becomes costly and tiresome as they have to cover a distance of 230 km to reach the spot. Whereas crossing the river costs around Rs 40 and the distance is just 20 km. The nightmare: Sixty-one people met their watery grave as the boat in which they were going capsized in Krishna River in Kurnool district on January 19, 2007.

They were going to attend Singotham Jathra on the other side of the river Krishna falling in Telangana State. The incident took place due to over loading of people on to the boat. In place of 20, around 70 people were said to have boarded the boat. The same scene repeats with hundreds and thousands taking ferry route to attend Singotham Jathra. Police are patrolling this stretch of River Krishna using a motor-boat to avert any sort of tragedy but the threat of drowning looms large as people continue to use boats.

The official apathy, government’s inept handling of the situation, people’s drive to cross the river despite odds have all contributed to the risk factors. It is appalling to note that the construction works relating to the Siddeswaram Bridge over River Krishna in the border district of Telangana State has remained on paper.

There is no sign of such works anywhere in the district even after ten years of the tragedy near Nehru Nagar in Kurnool district. The then chief minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy promised the people of the region that a bridge would be constructed and performed bhoomi puja in 2008. Neither the officials nor the politicians are showing any interest to get it completed.

It is learnt that an amount of Rs 50 crore was released by the government under first phase for the construction of bridge. However, due to the Telangana agitation, the construction works was kept on the backburner. People are demanding that the bridge work should be completed at the earliest. It would also help in transporting thousands of people across the two states.

By Narendra Kumar

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