A coracle on the swollen Netravati river is the only means of crossing the river during monsoon and accessing healthcare for residents of Kajoor in Belthangady taluk.
The residents in the village have been raising their unfulfilled demand of construction of a bridge across the river when candidates contesting from the DK Lok Sabha constituency visit them. Residents use coracle to cross the river to reach Kolli, which is situated on the other side of the river.
Kajoor is known for famous Kajoor dargah which draws thousands of devotees from across the State. However, it is out of easy reach in the absence of a bridge during monsoon.
Despite the Dargah having built in the name of a Muslim saint, people from all religion visit it. Devotees from across the State and even from outside the State visit the place and offer vows. The devotees offer oil at the dargah to fulfil their vows.
Kolli, which is situated on the other side of the river is known for Durga temple. However, there is no direct connectivity between these two villages, situated on the periphery of Kuduremukh National Park.
The elected representatives have been promising a bridge across river Nethravathi from Kolli to Kajoor for the last 55 years. “I have been hearing the promise since I was 15 years old. I am 70 years now. However, the promise has remained only on paper,” said Shekabba Beary, who runs a tea stall near Kajoor dargah. Kajoor-Kolli is about 20 km away from Belthangady. “My dream is to see the bridge before I die,” he added.
The villagers have been urging the construction of a bridge with the Malavanthige, Mithabagilu Gram Panchayats for the last several years. In fact, during 2008-09, when Prabhakar Bangera was the MLA, a sum of Rs 1.8 lakh was released for the bridge.
When Revanna was the PWD Minister, he had visited the vicinity and had directed the authorities to prepare an action plan for the bridge. However, the proposal is still pending before the government.
“The bridge is needed to provide a connectivity between two villages. We can cross the river easily during summer as the water recedes. However, it is a difficult task during monsoon. We have to spend atleast Rs 4,000 to Rs 5,000 to construct a ‘theppa’ every year. Crores of rupees are spent for development works. The man who rows coracle is paid Rs five for one way service,” said Seenappa Gowda.
“We have been demanding for a bridge for the last several years. The ‘country boat’ had turned turtle few years ago. We had a tough time in rescuing the children,” recalled resident Gowda.
Those requiring medical attention, especially pregnant women, have no choice but to be ferried across the river in these coracles for medical attention during monsoon. “ Even now we do not have a health care facility nearby. We have to go to Ujire for health care facilities, which is a far 20-km,” said a helpless Seenappa Gowda.