Even after the sun set, about 100 workers braved the winter chill and toiled amid earth-moving machines and government vehicles crisscrossing the native village of the Delhi gangrape victim in the eastern Uttar Pradesh.
Patients are carried on cots to nearby towns because of the
extremely poor condition of the approach road and hopelessly inadequate power supply perennially cripples the extremely backward village.
But in the past weeks, ever since the national and foreign media have virtually laid siege to the village, the entire administration is going all out to create facilities hitherto unheard of by the 1,500-odd inhabitants, mostly peasants and poor labourers.
Supervised by magistrates, engineers of Uttar Pradesh's public works department (PWD) and other officials, the workers have the mandate to create two Swiss Cottages - makeshift accommodations with facilities such as sofas, toilets and running water - and a helipad, besides repairing the 9-km perilously narrow village approach road dotted with innumerable potholes.
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav will visit the village on Friday a day before the victim's family performs 'shraadh'.
"He's coming to show solidarity and offer support. The Swiss Cottages are a necessity for VIPs such as the CM as well as chopper pilots. Roads are being repaired because a host of ministers will also come in their cars," said Ajay Pandey, a PWD official.
The victim's father did not pay much attention to the hectic activities. "We're mourning our daughter. People will come and go. Our life has been destroyed, forever," he said.
The 10x10 metre helipad being created on a school campus has consumed 18,000 bricks. "The helipad will have an approach to the Swiss Cottages. The path leading up to the victim's family would also be leveled," said Someshwar Yadav, a PWD contractor.
"All drains are being cleaned. In fact, the Ballia district magistrate has convened an emergency meeting and asked employees to get cracking," said a magistrate, requesting anonymity.
An elderly village woman said, "Kuchh bhail chahe na bhail, gaaon ke dasa to thik hoga. (At least, the village's condition is improving)."
But others were anguished at political leaders taking mileage out of a tragedy.
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