Ignored by govts, Haryana villagers built their own bridge and closed it for politicians


Fed up with government’s apathy, the residents of Aleeka and Panihari villages in Haryana’s Sirsa district have built their own bridge. The villagers have been waiting for a bridge for almost four decades. The bridge they have successfully built will now cut short their journey to Sirsa town by over 30 kilometers.

The villagers had to travel 40 kilometers every day to sell their farm produce. “Governments came and went. They all promised, but no help came. We met ministers, parliamentarians, chief ministers, leaders from the Congress, BJP and INLD, but all we got were assurances,” Major Singh, secretary of bridge construction committee, told the NDTV. The 214-feet long, 16-feet wide steel and concrete bridge over river Ghaggar has become a lifeline for over 1.25 lakh people, mostly farmers. They collected funds of about one crore from among themselves, making it India’s first crowdfunded bridge of such scale.

“We have no place for politicians or bureaucrats in our list of invitees for the bridge’s inauguration,” Hardev Singh of Panihari village told the Economic Times. “For us, a labourer who contributed Rs 500 and a widow who contributed her pension of Rs 1,000 are more important than those who fooled us for more than three decades.” The villagers have decided to allow no VIP or politician to ever use the bridge. It will remain of the people, by the people and for the people.

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