The petition by a lawyer has claimed that despite the Transport Ministry last November approving the construction of two bridges across Ravi to provide connectivity to the villages, the Punjab government has not taken any steps to begin the projects.
The plea by advocate Vimal Wadhawan and several former and current sarpanchs of the villages has contended that the eight villages are presently connected to the rest of the state through two temporary pontoon bridges which swing even when small vehicles move across them.
Besides, the bridges are just 100 metres long and therefore, when the river is in full flow, they are of no use to cross to the other side, the petition has said.
The eight villages having a population of around 5,000 people are located in the Gurdaspur and Pathankot districts of Punjab, the petition has said, adding that during the rainy season the pontoon bridges are removed by the administration to prevent them from being washed away by the river.
"Thus, from the month of June to the 2nd week of September every year, there are no bridges at all and the administration facilitates the movement of people only through boat sailing," it has said.
This lack of connectivity has impacted the education and medical facilities in the villages and has also resulted in wasting of the agricultural produce as it cannot be transported, Wadhawan has said in his plea.
He has also said that the eight villages have very fertile agricultural land and gives good quality and large quantities of agricultural produce like wheat, rice and sugarcane.
"But due to the poor connectivity of this area to the nearest whole sale markets (mandis) in the district headquarters, the transportation of agricultural produces becomes difficult or impossible sometimes.
"In rainy season, when there is no connectivity except the boat sailing, the harvested crops are wasted in the fields. Therefore, there is undue poverty in the area despite there being good quality fertile land and hard working population," the petition has also said.
Apart from the villages, there are also five heavy posts of Border Security Force and two posts of Indian Army in the same area which too are faced with the problems of carrying food, clothes, arms and ammunition and other materials due to the lack of connectivity, it has said.
The petition has sought directions to the Centre to ask the Punjab government to complete the construction of the two bridges in a time bound manner or get them constructed by the Indian Army. HMP SKV SA
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