ITANAGAR: Three villages in West Siang district, Arunachal Pradesh, have threatened to boycott the 2024 Lok Sabha and assembly elections if the government fails to construct a permanent bridge over the Hijum River. These villages, with a population of nearly 400 and about 300 eligible voters, have been demanding the bridge since 2014.
The makeshift bridge currently in place is inadequate during the monsoon season and poses risks to schoolchildren and patients who need to cross it, they complained.
The villagers have resolved to ask the state government for an all-weather road from Pidi Rime to Hijum and a permanent bridge over the river. They also seek improvements to existing roads and development of new ones. If their demands are not met, they plan to engage in democratic agitation and even consider boycotting the elections.
Despite reaching out to their local MLA and elected representatives in the past, the villagers feel neglected. They are now pinning their hopes on Union Minister Kiren Rijiju, who hails from Arunachal Pradesh.
The existing PMGSY road from Tabasora to Rime Moko, constructed in 2001-2002, is currently not motorable and has not been repaired for a long time. Minister Tumke Bagra cited the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on developmental work and lack of available funds but mentioned attempting to construct the bridge under a scheme, though time constraints pose a challenge.
The villagers express their helplessness and emphasise the vital importance of the bridge for their community’s well-being, connectivity, and future.