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Making inroads, on their own

For the villagers of Ghagra, Pakuria, Basadiha and Durgadih, Tuesday is a special day. On this day, they get ready early in the morning and equipped with spade, basket and hammer, make a beeline for the Gotashila hill. Even the children are not left behind, reports Probal Sanatani.

india Updated: Dec 22, 2006 01:16 IST

For the villagers of Ghagra, Pakuria, Basadiha and Durgadih, Tuesday is a special day. On this day, they get ready early in the morning and equipped with spade, basket and hammer, make a beeline for the Gotashila hill. Even the children are not left behind.

Their destination: a passage amid hills and forest leading to Ghagra village along the Ghatshila-Bengal border. “The government calls it a road,” says a villager, adding, “All these days, it existed only on paper. We will make it a reality soon.”

The administration never undertook any road construction project on the stretch from Ganga village to Ghagra, the villagers rue. The villagers have to carry their bicycles on their shoulders while treading the three-kilometer distance. Pedestrian, too, do not feel safe because of the stiff elevation and loose boulders. But instead of just crying about the neglect, these gutsy villagers have decided to take things into their own hands and do something about the problem.

The district authorities, when asked, shrug and express their inability to do anything. "It is forest land and we do not have the authority to construct on forest land," is their refrain.

So, it is left to people like Rajendra Singh, Baiju Mardi, Chunu Soren, Ram Murmu and Ram Mahato — all of them heads of their respective villages — to get together and construct the road. It is their decision that every Tuesday be dedicated to the construction — not an easy thing to do since the villagers work without remuneration.

The villagers have already made half of the road communicable. Before starting work, they all offer community prayer at the Gotashila Shiv temple on the route and while retiring, enjoy a community lunch of khichri. Just goes to show that where there is a will, there is a way.