Bridge over Battisa River

When construction of six bridges on the river was announced recently, I wondered what had kept them from sanctioning them for so long

brajesh

Brajesh Kumar | January 23, 2013


A scenic view of the Battisa river flowing in the bhakhar (hilly) region
A scenic view of the Battisa river flowing in the bhakhar (hilly) region

As you climb up the Aravali range to a handful of panchayats located in its lap, its beauty mesmerises you. Metalled road winding up the hill with verdure all around is a treat to watch.

Adding to the spectacular view is a river that accompanies the road gurgling on its shallow rocky bed throughout the journey. Called ‘Battisa’ (meaning 32, as you need to cross it 32 times in order to traverse the entire hilly region of the Abu Road block), it is both a boon and bane for the region.

While it provides water for cultivation throughout the year; during the monsoons, it cuts off the entire region from the plains.

Although a cemented road runs through all the 32 points where the river flows from one side to the other, for nearly four months from July to October (when the water flows above the road), it turns dangerously slippery.

Vehicles cross these points at their own peril. A year ago, a jeep, with passengers aboard, turned turtle, killing a schoolteacher from the area. In case of medical emergencies, residents have to take long detour to reach the community health centre in Abu Road.

While the residents of the area have been pleading with the district administration to build over-bridges on some of the very low-lying roads for years, it finally heard them early this month when it passed a proposal to build six bridges on the river.

Looking at the importance of the bridges for the entire hilly region that comprises around ten villages, I wondered what had kept the administration from sanctioning them for so long.

Be that as it may, now that region will soon have those crucial bridges, residents are a happy lot.

“Finally, after all these years, we will remain connected with the plains even during the monsoon,” says Sharmi Bai, the sarpanch of the Neechlagarh panchayat.  

Along came Bhajji…

Even since I have settled down in New Town, the picturesque township surrounded by the Aravali range on all side, I have had this urge to wake up early in the morning and go for jogging or at least a brisk walk around the cemented tracks along the boundary wall of the township and soak in the pre-dawn beauty of the surroundings.

And, until last week this urge had remained a wistful urge.

Handicapped by my laziness, which multiplies manifold during winters, I would, every morning, shut my alarm, which rang dutifully day after day at 6 am sharp, hoping that one fine morning I would indeed wake up, and be off to my (by now fabled) jogging session.

And, I would have continued to disregard my alarm clock, and my urge to rise before the sun rose on the horizon, if Ravinder Singh aka Bhajji from Bhatinda, Punjab, had not come along.  

Bhajji, a 25-year-old, good-humoured, soft-spoken Sardarji has just moved along with his friend and colleague Ujjawal in the apartment block adjacent to mine.

Last Sunday, as I hosted my new neighbours, who work in an NGO here, for dinner, I asked them if anyone was game for morning walk every weekday. “If anyone of you agreed to go with me on my daily sojourn with nature, he would get a cup of tea following the walk,” I said, trying to tempt them.   

“Haan ji, haanji, tussi bas jaga diya karoji. Hum aajayenge. Thodi kasrat-wasrat ho jayegi,” pat came reply from Bhajji.

So there I was on Monday morning walking around New Town with Bhajji, before the sunrise. And yes, following the walk, Bhajji tagged along with me to my flat for his promised cup of tea.

“A promise is a promiseji,” he told me.

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