JUST AS you enter Unchaa, resembling the ruins of a died-out civilisation excavated from the womb of mother earth, a swirl of dust carried by an ominous gust of dry wind welcomes you.
Inhabited till February 2006, this 150-year-old village, just a kilometre from the Pahuj river and 10 km from Jalaun’s Madhogarh, now only exists in government records. In reality Unchaa is ‘no more’.
Once the most prosperous village of the district, Unchaa simply could not withstand the successive onslaughts unleashed on it— dacoits, floods and four years of crop failure in a row – and gave in, triggering what is being termed as the worst case of exodus (100 per cent) in the Bundelkhand region.
Today it presents a perfect case for study.
Right at the entry point of the village stands a school building. Hindi alphabets written on the blackboard have not yet faded. Signs of how recent everything must have been.
The roads to the village are full of wild shrubs and hedges. Most of the electricity poles have collapsed. The wires they once had stand pilfered.
Some houses still have doors which seems to have been locked forever. Signs of how unbearable it must have been.
Also there is an MMR telephone tower in the middle of the village. It was a kind of wireless telephone used much before the advent of mobile telephony. Tell-tale signs of the village’s prosperity.
It was a pretty well off village, says Bhoopat, former gram pradhan of Bhimnagar, situated next to Unchaa.
“The exodus from Unchaa began with the drought of 2002 and 2004. Most families gave up between 2004 and 2006.
Three families — a Prajapati, a Pandit and a Vishwakarma —were the last to go, says Devendra Gandhi, a youth who used to do social work in the village.
Gandhi says he tried but everything proved so futile in the end. Everybody left, one by one.