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Trolley on river: Weddings hit in villages sans road

Pithoragarh: People in Uttarakhand's border district of Pithoragarh hesitate of get their children married to residents of four remote villages - Ghurudi, Mankot, Bhyala and Ghanghali- knowing they have to use a rickety and often risky trolley system to reach the villages. Many are put off when 'baraat' (wedding party of the groom) would have to board the makeshift trolley system- a small two-seater iron structure mounted on a 100-metre cable strung across the tumultuous Gori river- to reach the villages.
"It takes a baraat nearly four hours to cross the river, as only two persons can sit in the trolley at a time," said a viallager.
'Kids scared to sit on trolley but have no other option'
The same time would be required for the party to return. Often, we request the groom's kin to limit the baraat to 20-30 people. Sometimes they understand and comply, sometimes they don't, he said adding that "a bride was once asked to travel to Hanseswar temple in neithbouring Jauljibi, as the area has road connectivity and wedding attendees could avoid the risky trolley altogether." 
Bhagat Singh Mahar, former block development committee (BDC) member of the area, added that due to the risks involved in using the trolley system, people are hesitant in getting their kids married in the village across the river.
Till 2013, there was a suspension bridge on Gori from Ghurudi village but it was wiped out in the flash floods that year. People then started heaping wooden planks on the river to cross it.
"These would get washed away and people would put them again. In 2017, the government constructed a trolley system but it got washed away in 2020. Then there was a pulley system, which was destroyed as well. The current trolley system was built in September last year," said gram pradhan of Gurudi, Munni Devi. The trolley is currently the only option to cross the river for around 500 residents, inclduding 50 schoolchildren from classes 6 to 12, who risk their lives daily to reach the government inter college in Bagicha Bagar. As the system requires occupants to haul themselves forward or someone on the other end to pull them through, the children often end up with bruised hands from yanking the nylon rope daily on their way to school, according to Devi. Gaurav Chand, a class 8 student, said, "We are scared to death to sit on the trolley as it can break at any time. But there is no other option."
Devi said that in 2020, two men using a trolley system fell off and died. In November last year, Deepa Chand, a class 6 student, fell off the trolley and injured her back. "Fortunately, she held onto the rope and fell near the river bank, which lessened the impact and possibly saved her life," she added. When queried about the issue, local PWD authorities claimed the government is constructing a "safer trolley stystem" which is expected to be ready later this month. BK Singh, executive engineer, PWD, Askot, told the construction of a trolley system is underway at Ghurudi. "We have asked the contractor to speed up the construction and complete it by June 15," he said. The system will be safer, more technically sound and is being built at a cost of Rs 18 lakh from the district disaster management funds, he added.

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