If we cannot do what we will, we must will what we can. So, when residents belonging to a cluster of villages near Karnaprayag in Uttarakhand got tired of waiting for forest officials to clear a mountain road project, they decided to take charge. And in just 10 days, about 300 villagers built their own road connecting Bhatkwali with Bainoli village.
Men and women worked for almost eight to nine hours a day, and carved out a three kilometre long motorable road with basic tools like chisels and hammers. And they managed to do so without cutting even a single tree.
Picture for representation only. Photo Credit: draskd/Flickr
“We strongly believe in strengthening the environment, and all of us had vowed not to raze any trees to build the road. Luckily, there were not many trees on the stretch,” Kunwar Singh, a 56-year-old ex-serviceman told The Times of India.
Ironically, they were told that the project was not being initiated because forest officials believed that it would involve shredding of trees. The road was supposed to be built under the Pradhan Mantri Grameen Sadak Yojna.
Most of these villagers come from the mountain regions of Bhatkwali, Chorasain and Bainoli near Karnaprayag. The villages are located at altitudes of 5,000 to 7,000 feet about sea level, and accessibility between them is very difficult. Thus, travelling for healthcare facilities or children’s education becomes a very troublesome task. So they formed a Sangharsh Samiti (Agitators’ Group), to solve their problem themselves. Women also played a very active role in this project
“All of us held a meeting, and decided that we will go ahead with the road construction ourselves. We followed the survey plan that officials had prepared for making the road. All the materials used were natural – like the sheets of rocky stones and mud from hill sides which were utilized to build the stone walls on both sides of the road. The villagers simply donated their time and effort and there was no substantial cost involved in the construction,” says Pushpa Devi, who was involved in the exercise.