DARCHULA, June 17: Tuin was a killer. Those who would use it to cross the river would survive by chance. That was how people would feel about the risky rope way which was but the only way to cross the giant Mahakali River in the remote district of Darchula. After 25 years of initial assurance from the government of replacing the tuin with a bridge, the promise was delivered recently.
“It was the most anticipated support from the government. We had no choice but to cross the river through tuin risking our life. The tuin had claimed many lives. This bridge is a huge relief,” said Prayag Dutta Badu of Byas Municipality-6.
It is not a concrete bridge that the government has gifted to the people. It is only a suspension bridge that links Nepal with India at Dhaulakot of Byas Municipality - 5. According to Badu, for those who were using the risky ropeway, even suspension bridge is like a precious gift. “We can now travel far more easily. We are feeling very happy about it. We are satisfied,” he said.
Locals stated that the bridge has been a major election agenda in the past. Every political party would pledge to build bridge over the river. “It's been 25 years since we have been receiving the assurances from political parties. Finally it has materialized,” Badu stated. He added that the bridge will finally cease to be an election agenda.
Locals of Byas Municipality had to go to district headquarters Khalanga for minor as well as major needs and tasks. From shopping essential commodities, to accessing health and other facilities or to make official documents, they had to travel a lot. Even to reach out to the Indian market at Dharchula, they had to cross the river. According to Badu, many people have succumbed to the deadly journey. “Children, women, elders, men and women have fallen prey to the river because of the tuin and breathed their last. Coming alive out of the river once you fall is next to impossible,” he stated.
According to the Suspension Bridge Division Office at the district, the 94-meter long suspension bridge has come into shape at the cost of Rs 2.8 million. Apart from the locals of Byas municipality, those from Huti, Dhaulakot, Sunsera and Rapla, among others, are directly benefited by the bridge.
“We can now go to Khalanga as well as Dharchula far easily. This has given huge relief to everyone, especially to labors who have to travel very often,” Badu remarked.
Sharada Badu, also from the same locality, added that the new bridge is going to save new born and mothers. She said that dozens of women had lost their lives as they were forced to use tuin even during sensitive times, she said. “We had no other way than to use the tuin even for pregnant women, when they needed to be taken to hospital. That was extremely inconvenient. But now this unfortunate condition has come to an end,” she said. “Women are very happy that health facility has become more accessible now,” she added.
Farmers are happy, too. They are very hopeful of marketing their produces more effectively and get better returns for their toils in the coming days. Those who are doing professional vegetable, cattle and crops farming can now far easily supply their production to Indian as well as Nepali markets. Locals feel that the new bridge would also improve existing cross-border marital bonds. Cross border marriage is practiced between the Indian and Nepali along the border areas since long.
Public concerned over the lack of check post
The new bridge has triggered thicker movement of people in the area. This calls for new check posts as well, locals say. Darchula DSP Kedar Khanal admits that lack of permanent check posts at the new points has indeed increased security threat. He said that there is a need of permanent check post in Dhaulakot and Huti and added that additional security forces would be deployed around the bridge. “There is no door yet on the gateway of the bridge. Security forces monitor it round the clock. Those personnel are providing security to the bridge by living in rented spaces. We look forward to improve this situation in the days ahead,” he said.
Khanal added that the Home Ministry has been notified of the situation. But the Ministry has responded so far. “We have demanded for extra posts and force. We are waiting for the reply,” he said.