Chandigarh: It seems to be a queer statement when we say that our 55-year long road in time and 22 km long in distance, has a 7-km patch of the road yet to be constructed. It is likely, at this pace of development, the return of the native(s) including this writer, who deserted the villages in the seventies for want of water, school and road, may not be fulfilled. They yearn that before they die, may rehabilitate the devastated fields once yielding enough grain for livelihood.
The villages nestled on the receding hillocks present a Wordsworthian setting in nature’s bounty. The two cousins had joined the high school Patlander in fifth class in 1962. After traversing a distance of 12 km, got late to the school, so thought it better to play truant. It were the two cousins who along with two people from the government started measuring with the iron chain the footpath towards Rangar from Chhaila Da Galu at about 10 am, and by 1 pm the team, reached the Zamiri khad.
The in-charge got the cousins’ signatures and paid them Rs 2 each. Rs 2 were the daily wage in those days which is equal to Rs 300 wages per day today. The cousins were hopeful that the road will reach their homes but that did not happen. One of the cousins left the world eight years ago, and the other, this writer, yearns to go back home but does not know how many years in time for 7-km patch will be required to fulfil his cherished wish. These three villages are Naglamber, Banoh and Markiri in the Sujanpur Tihra Block of Hamirpur district and are landlocked by two seasonal khads Mehli and Jamiri which make a confluence and cut off the villages during rainy season.
Today there are three households out of 27 in 1970 in Banoh, Markiri village which is a part of Mehlru village, had 20 households in 1970, but now none lives there. The Mehlru villagers who are now connected with a four-km link road from the Palahi side on the Sujanpur-Sandhol road, have been demanding the extension of road linking it through Markiri village and between Banoh and Naglamber with Dhail, only a distance of about 7 km. It will link them to their land in Markiri across Mehli khad, and will also open the road for district headquarters Hamirpur.
Giving a direct and short route to scores of villages via Rangar, Chauri and Mahadev to the district headquarters. Unfortunately there is a lot of politics not only on this patch of unconstructed road but that has been the way of snail-pace development in the areas of hostile locations. All these years, these landlocked villages suffered the government apathy. Then the primary school Rangar was 9 km from these villages through the risky footpaths amid hills and the Government High School was about 12 km through the forest, Khads and steep climbings.
The neglect of these areas is an example of the state government’s working. It was during the Shanta Kumar’s tenure as Chief Minister who made water available to these villages, Prem Kumar Dhumal as Chief Minister promised to complete the left out road and during his tenure the alignment of the link road was also effected from Jandru to Dhail via Naglamber and, Banoh but then code of conduct for the assembly election came into force, and this time Virbhadra Singh formed the government. As the voters of these villages had boycotted the elections, Congress candidate Rajinder Rana, a close confidante of Virbhadra Singh lost the elections in Sujanpur Tihra to Narinder Thakur. It being a fight for political survival, petty politics has made these villages the victims of its hara-kiri.
Every other day, the chief minister announces roads, schools or other projects but his supporters did not bring the issue of this patch to his notice, though he knew that the voters of this area had boycotted the elections.The middle school of Dhail is on the verge of closure with about two dozen students. It is all due absence of road and connectivity.
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