Ramchandra Das,53 has emulated the ‘Mountain man of Gahlaur’. He has cut a road through the hill chain with chisels and hammer, 30 feet long, 13.5 feet wide and cut the village’s distance to the block headquarters at Atri by a full 4 kms.
It took this resident of Kewati village 14 long years to fulfil a commitment .
Says Das, “I was inspired by Baba Dashrath Manjhi, who dedicated 22 years of his life to create a passage to the real world through the hills at Gahlaur. He used to stay at my house while promoting Kabir Panth. I became an ardent fan of his work. It transformed me”.
As he recalls, the immediate reason for his taking up the’Himalayan task’, was the fact, that in 1993-94, several villagers of Kewati were share croppers but farm lands were 7 kms away. Just reaching them each day for work was an insurmountable proposition. Carrying ploughshares, herding cattle, arranging a meal and water at the worksites was well nigh impossible. Carrying farm produce including paddy, wheat, gram etc upto the village too was difficult.
Ramchandra was also the first man of Kewati village to own a truck driver’s licence and a desire that he would be able to drive his truck to his village one day. The Kewati pass was the only obstruction to his village’s happiness. “That’s what got me started,” he says.
He accepts there were times, when he felt like giving up. Some laughed and ridiculed him. “But, I remembered Baba Dasrath. If he could, I could too. And, I did it,” he says.
Ask him what he earned and he is quick to reply: “Good wishes, respect, a sense of being and being useful to the world.”
However, this is not the end. Ramchandra is still working and he aims to widen the passage upto 15 feet so that two vehicles can cross the pass at one time. In fact, Ramchandra has also constructed a 1 km of kuchcha road upto the local Devi temple in Kewati village through Shramdaan. For this, he provided refreshments to all those involved in the work from own earnings.
Since the construction of the passage in Kewati Ghati, the distance between Atri Maulanagar Bazaar and the Atri block headquarters has been reduced by nearly four kms from the earlier 7kms. It has also helped a dozen villages including Kotalpura, Badwana, Piyaar, Ramdana, Gangati, Kolhuada, Banchar and others to be easily connected with Atri, that too on vehicles.