After waiting for the government to build a road and a bridge for them for 20 years, these impoverished villagers have taken on the stupendous task of building these themselves.
Larahi village is located in the Hazaribagh district of Jharkhand. It is 18 km away from the sub-district headquarter Chauparan and 50 km away from district headquarter Hazaribagh. The closest city is Koderma, some 40 km away.
The village, which has a population of 501 people and 81 households, has no basic amenities like a hospital and proper school. The only school in the village is the primary school, Prathamik Vidayalaya Larahi. After primary education, most children quit studies.
Many patients in need of urgent care have lost their lives while being transported to the hospital in Koderma, 40 km away.
“Our kids don’t study after primary school. Only a few who can afford lodging for their children in Hazaribagh or Koderma send them for further education. How can they travel 45 km every day?” asks Binay Kumar, a villager from Larahi.
There is however, another route to National Highway 2 that is only 1.5 km long. This kachcha road is almost always under water. During the rainy season, the water becomes as deep as 15 to 20 ft. And on crossing this road, villagers still have to cross the Koyla River (also known as Koel River) to reach NH2.
In spite of this route being dangerous, the villagers are forced to take it in emergencies to reach Koderma as soon as possible.
In 1996, a boat carrying 12 people from Larahi village capsized in the Koyla River and 6of them lost their lives. Triloki Yadav, who was just 15 years old then, witnessed this incident. Since then he has been seeing Larahi villagers make regular visits to government offices with requests to build them a road and a bridge along this route. Ministers have come and gone depending on election seasons – promising to build the road and bridge and disappearing again.
In 2012, Triloki read the story of the mountain man of India, Dashrath Manjhi. He was moved by this amazing and inspirational story of a man who carved a road through a mountain on his own.
“I thought if a single man can do this, why can’t we villagers get together to build a road that we have been requesting the government to build for the last 20 years. Manjhi took 22 years to build the road, which means we would have done it by now had we not relied on the government,” says Triloki.
Triloki gathered a few friends and convinced the villagers to start working on the road.
They started collecting money from the villagers in 2012. Many of the villagers were migrant labourers and had experience in building roads. Hence, along with the money, these villagers also committed to donate their labour to build the road.
In 2016, the villagers were ready with the budgeted amount of Rs. 50 lakhs to build the road and the bridge.
“It was all our hard earned money. Most of us are farmers or migrant workers. We hardly manage to feed our children. Still, every household pitched in over the years – some with very little and some as much as Rs. 25,000, according to their capacity,” says Binay Kumar.
The villagers started to build the 1.5 km long road as well as the bridge over the Koyla River on February 28, 2016.
Many, including Triloki, stopped going to their regular jobs and worked day and night on the road and bridge. Once the work started taking shape, it became difficult for the women and children to travel to the construction sites every day. But this did not lessen their enthusiasm to work.
The villagers built tents near the site and stayed there when needed.
“We celebrated Holi here on the site and Ramnavami too,” said a villager.
The villagers worked in teams of 50, taking turns to go home for any other work.
Today, the road and the bridge are almost 85% complete. And no one can stop these villagers until the work is 100% complete.
Once the road and bridge are ready, the travel distance between Larahi and Koderma will be reduced by almost 15 kms. Also a small town called Barhi can be reached by travelling for just 7 km.
Inspired by the villagers of Larahi, people from the neighbouring villages have also started contributing to the work.
“The only fear that I have is that we have filled the road with mud, 15 to 17 ft deep. But if we are unable to fix the stones before the monsoon arrives then all our hard work will be washed away. I want to deeply request the government to help us at this crucial stage. Even if they start helping us now it will make a huge difference,” appeals Triloki Yadav.
We hope his message will reach the concerned government authorities and these hardworking villagers will get the help they need. You can connect with Triloki Yadav at 8521514773 or Binay Kumar at 9934151150, if you wish to help these brave villagers.