Not only is Ganga considered the most sacred river of India, but in Bihar it is important to a large section of people. To earn their livelihood, people from villages near Munger and Begusarai have no option but cross the river on ferries. In fact there is a road, but instead of going by road through heavy traffic people prefer to travel by ferries,
A bridge is also being constructed over the river. It is a mega rail-road bridge, apparently the third largest in India.
Apart from the Munger bridge and the one up Digha, as Bihar has just one bridge over Ganga—Mahatma Gandhi Setu in Patna.
The rail-road bridge will cost around Rs 2,363 crore with the railways sharing Rs 1,247 crore and Bihar providing Rs 1,116 crore. Several locals are confident of using the bridge within the next one year.
Several commuters avail the ferry at a fee of Rs 20. It may sound a meagre amount, but for those who earn their livelihood daily, it’s one fourth of their earning.
“We don’t have an option, but to buy the tickets daily. Munger is an important market place. Courts and other important offices are also here. So we can’t afford to not travel,” said Bijay Mandal, wh lives in a village on the other side of Ganga.
Mandal’s fate is shared by many others who have accepted commuting as a part of life. Pankaj Kumar Yadav, who needs to visit the market in Munger daily, said, “Once the bridge is done I can walk down to my home from Munger. I can save Rs 800 to Rs 1000 every month.”
When asked if any of the candidates have spoken about it, he said, “No one has talked about it in the last 10 years. Once we deboard in Begusarai, we catch six-seater auto-rickshaws on our way home or again, travel by boat.”
Completion of the bridge was stopped over an land acquisition issue in the region. But by the time the issue has got resolved, the political will to take the bridge to completion seems to have dried up.