Promise of metalled road yet to come true

August 18th, 2008 - 6:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Patna, Aug 18 (IANS) Dashrath Manjhi single-handedly carved out a road by cutting through a hill in Bihar for 21 long years. A year after his death, his dream of a metalled road for villagers remains just that - a dream.Manjhi, 80, died Aug 17 last year after battling cancer at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi. His dream was to construct a metalled road through the mountain, linking Gahlaur with Amethi in Gaya district of Bihar, about 100 km from here.

While the successive state governments failed to make any headway during his lifetime, after his death Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had promised to fulfil his dream.

Manjhi had once recalled that in the early 1990s he had met Lalu Prasad, then chief minister of Bihar, and urged him to construct a metalled road. Lalu Prasad, according to him, immediately asked officials to start work for the road.

“Lalu-ji promised me thrice that the road would be made. I stood for hours before his gate to ask what happened to his promises, but was rarely allowed to meet him,” he had said.

When Lalu Prasad’s wife Rabri Devi was chief minister, Manjhi tried to draw the state government’s attention to his demand once again, but without success.

Ganesh Manjhi, a close associate of the veteran campaigner, said: “It was exactly a year ago that Nitish Kumar promised he would fulfil Manjhi’s dream by constructing a metalled road through the mountain, but so far there has been no response from government. It appears that it was a mere promise.”

Kumar’s promise had come when he had gone to pay homage to Manjhi at Gaya, where his body was kept before the last rites were performed at his native village Gahlaur. The Bihar government had declared a state funeral in his honour.

Now villagers doubt if they will ever get the metalled road.

“Nitish Kumar had announced in last August plans to build a three-km metalled road from Gahlaur to Amethi. But the project has remained only on paper. Similarly, he announced to build a health centre and a community hall in Manjhi’s memory but work is yet to start,” said Tulsi Manjhi, Gahlaur village body head.

Gaya district administration sources said the forest department’s clearance for the proposal was awaited.

Manjhi had single-handedly carved out a 360-foot long, 30-foot high and 30-foot wide passage by cutting through a hill near Gahlaur with a hammer, chisel and nails working day and night.

The hill stood between the Attari and Wazirgunj blocks in Gaya. Thanks to Manjhi, the blocks have been brought closer than ever before.

Manjhi started off his extraordinary task in his 60s when his wife was injured and he had to go around the mountains to reach the nearest hospital. He finished his epic project in his 80s.

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