Photasuti Ghat (North Lakhimpur), Dec 8 - Thousands of villagers living on the left bank of the river Ranganadi at Kharkati, Panigaon and Telahi regions of Lakhimpur district have been using the Photasuti Ghat to cross the Ranganadi in order to travel to places like Garchiga, Bangalmora, Bihpuria and Narayanpur on the right bank to avoid a circuitous route of almost 15 to 20 kms to access National Highway-15 that connects these areas.
For the last one decade, the exasperated villagers have been crossing the Ranganadi river from Photasuti Ghat at Kherkati under Pachim Telahi Gaon Panchayat of Telahi Rural Development Block to the Ahomoni-Mirigaon on the right bank under Ranganadi Gaon Panchayat of Nowboicha Rural Development Block through a bamboo bridge during the winter season. But as the monsoon sets in and the river is in spate, the bridge is invariably washed away each year. But the never-say-die villagers have been repeatedly constructing dozens of bridges at different places in the last 11 years, without receiving any financial aid or intervention in kind, from the powers that be.
In a public meeting at Kharkati in 2009, it was decided to construct an all-weather bridge over the Ranganadi with timber, bamboo and other locally available material during the dry season. Led by late Chidananda Saikia and Haren Bora, the villagers from Kharkati, Pachim Kharkati, Teokiya, Borbeel, Baligaon and Balijan constructed an all-weather bridge for the first time over the Ranganadi.
People from the either side of the river crossed that bridge with cycles and two-wheelers during the winter season until it was washed away by flood waters of the Ranganadi during the monsoon season. Since then, it has become an annual affair for the villagers at Kharkati to construct a bamboo bridge at Photasuti to Ahomoni-Mirigaon over the Ranganadi.
The team led by late Chidananda Saikia and Haren Bora continued to construct the bridges for four years, following which it was overseen by fellow villagers Ranjeet Saikia and Mridul Bora. For the next six years, Ranjeet Saikia and Mridul Bora kept up the momentum till 2019.
In 2019, the bridge was constructed by entailing a cost of Rs 80,000. This year, it was built by members of Ranganadi Kristi Sangha at a cost of Rs 1,30,000 with timber. The 103- feet-long bridge is sturdy enough to bear the weight of light motor vehicles and was inaugurated on October 29.
The recurring feature of this bridge construction task by the villagers have been due to the devastation caused by the Ranganadi every monsoon with flash floods attributed to the release of upstream dam water from North East Electrical Power Corporation (NEEPCO)�s Ranganadi Hydro-Electrical Plant at Yazali in Arunachal Pradesh. Since 2008, dam-induced flash floods by the Ranganadi has been devastating downstream areas of the river in Lakhimpur district. This annual havoc has also contributed towards repeated destruction of the all-weather bridges over the Ranganadi at Phota Suti constructed by the villagers.
During the monsoon, travellers are often ferried in country boats by two brothers, namely Deena Kalita and Saru Moina Kalita since a long time back. Earlier, their father late Satram Kalita offered the same services for many years. These boatmen were paid some remuneration by the state till 2007. But thereafter, they have been subsisting on fares paid by the travellers.
Fortunately rather, the PWD has floated tender for construction of an RCC bridge (No. 5/1) over the Ranganadi at Photasuti Ghat on the Panigaon Kharkati Ahomoni Mirigaon Road under the State-Owned Priority Development General (SOPD-G) scheme for the year 2020-21 at an approximate cost of Rs 26.20 crore.
The bridge, when completed, would connect the southern part of Lakhimpur from Panigaon to Bihpuria and Narayanpur with a parallel state highway along NH-15. This would significantly reduce traffic congestion in North Lakhimpur and on NH-15.