Every flood, Laxman’s raft comes to Tigiria residents’ rescue – The New Indian Express

A farmer Laxman Mantry creates a special raft every time there is a flood in Mahanadi to rescue villagers and supply them relief, writes Arabinda Panda
Published: 04th September 2022 06:44 AM  |   Last Updated: 04th September 2022 06:44 AM   |  A+A-
Laxman Mantry rescuing villagers in his raft | Express
CUTTACK: On August 22 when the entire Koilikanya village under Tigiria block was under neck-deep water from the flooded Mahanadi, two residents Pranabandhu Mantri and Santosh Kumar Mantri got stranded in a power boat of the fire personnel at Raghurampur. The boat developed snag while they were on the way to their village from Bindhanima CHC.

When a local farmer Laxman Mantry heard about it, he used a raft that he had built prior to the floods to rescue the stranded villagers and the firemen to safety.In fact, 66-year-old Laxman has the raft ready every time there is a flood in the Mahanadi river system. He uses it to ferry stranded villagers and provide them relief. There are at least 12 riverside villages which are affected whenever there is flooding in Mahanadi.
“This year, when the government announced the opening of Hirakud gates, I decided to make the raft with the help of my five sons,” he said.
The farmer, who has studied up to Class III and also owns a sugar factory, spent `1 lakh from his savings to do so. The 10-ft wide and 20-ft long bamboo raft supported by 13 plastic barrels (each having 250 lts capacity) and connected with a 5 HP motor pump has a capacity to ferry 15 to 20 people and carry 15 tonne of commodities.
He had first set up the raft using bamboo and six cauldrons used for cooking molasses in his sugar factory when his village faced severe flooding due to a 3-km-long breach in the Mahanadi embankment in 1982. “The situation was such that no villager could step out of his house as everything was under water. This was when I decided to construct a raft with whatever equipment was available in my house so that we could step out for arranging medicines and food,” he recalled.
During 2001 and 2003 floods, he had come up with 10-ft wide and 20-ft long bamboo rafts respectively that were supported by plastic sprinkler pipes and connected with 5 HP motors.“Over the years, the rafts I make have undergone a change in technique. Now I also use a fan in the raft to cut the water current for smooth navigation during floods,” he said.People of the riverside village have applauded Laxman for his innovation and selfless service.
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