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Man who moved a mountain

india Updated: Jul 26, 2006 02:34 IST

A frail old man had just entered the chief minister's durbar when Nitish Kumar looked up. The man at the helm of affairs stood up and offered his chair. After all, he was standing face to face with Dasrath Manjhi, the man who had moved a mountain.

At 60, Manjhi is a legend --- he dug a 3 km long passage through a mountain, with a hammer, a chisel and his bare hands, to connect his village, Gahluar, to civilisation. It took him 22 years but he succeeded. If the Taj Mahal is Shah Jahan's tribute to his wife, the road that Manjhi built--- it cut the time for people to travel to the next village from six hours to one -- is his memorial to his wife, who died because he could not take her to a nearby hospital in time. Now, the road he built has been introduced in the state’s road construction programme. The government has fulfilled its promise to grant Manjhi five acres of land.

A car— what’s that?

Vijoynagar (Arunachal Pradesh): Children here can tell a helicopter from a cargo aircraft but they have never seen a car or motorbike. "Is it nice to move around in cars?" asks one. At an altitude of over 4,000 feet, Vijoynagar is among scores of villages where people have to trek for days to reach the nearest road. For the locals, the IAF is a vital link to the outside world.