Relief for family of man who carved road through hill in Bihar

August 20th, 2008 - 3:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Patna, Aug 20 (IANS) Dashrath Manjhi, who single-handedly carved out a road by cutting through a hill in Bihar, died August last year after battling with cancer. Despite an assurance by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar that the government would bear his treatment expenses, Manjhi’s poverty stricken family was issued a notice demanding the amount incurred on his treatment. The notice has now been revoked. Manjhi, 80, had been admitted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi, where he was being treated for cancer.

After the state government faced embarrassment over the notice to Manjhi’s son and daughter in-law, who are handicapped and live in abject poverty at Gahlaur village in Gaya district about 100 km from here, the government removed director in chief, health services, Geeta Prasad for the serious lapse, official sources said Wednesday.

“Manjhi’s family went through sleepless nights over the notice. Now finally they have got some relief,” said Ganesh Manjhi, a close friend of Dasrath Manjhi.

Geeta Prasad’s removal and disciplinary proceedings initiated against her were seen here as a damage control measure by the government.

Official sources said that the additional secretary of health department has been asked to conduct an inquiry into how the notice was issued to Manjhi’s family.

Tulsi Manjhi, village body head of Gahlaur, said the notice was served to Manjhi’s family despite the fact that Manjhi was no more. The notice clearly mentioned that in case of misuse of the funds, the amount would be realized from the person who underwent the treatment.

A year after the death of Manjhi, his dream of a metalled road linking Gahlaur with Amethi remains just that - a dream.

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

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. “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” a villager said.

Manjhi had single-handedly carved out a 360 feet long, 30 feet high and 30 feet 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.

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