Everyday Shankar Dutta of Sunsera crosses the Mahakali river on a rickety ropeway to get to the neighbouring town of India in search of work and comes back the same way in the evening with his earnings. Crossing over a bridge would mean a whole day's walk so instead he uses the ropeway, knowing that a little mistake could cost him his life.
At least two locals from Darchula lose their lives every year trying to cross the dangerous waters of the Mahakali river on a weak and unstable hand-operated ropeway. The issue of constructing a bridge across the river has been raised during Nepal-India border meetings but like most agreements, it is yet to be implemented.
"We have been requesting the government to construct at least one suspension bridge in this area, but in vain," says Mangal Singh Dhami, a teacher from Sunsera. At present there are three suspension bridges across the Mahakali in Darchula district, in Khalanga, Dattu and Joljivi. But for the locals from rural Darchula it takes a day to get to any of the bridges and the ropeway is the only alternative.
"I have used the ropeway many times to go to Sunsera," says assistant CDO Dhan Prasad Poudyal Sharma, adding that there have been agreements to build two more bridges at Tigdam and Huti. Although the state government of India has agreed, the central government is yet to give the go-ahead. Funds for a bridge at Huti have been set aside in this year's budget but no work has been started.