Four weeks ago, when IAS officer Jitendra Kumar Soni took charge as the District Collector of Nagaur, Rajasthan, his first initiative was to help the rural people of the village access every part of the city with ease. To do that, he launched an initiative named Raasta Kholo Abhiyan which involved removing encroachments and land invasions.
Apart from clearing the encroached land, he also decided to name the new pathways after women-achievers in that area.
Raasta Kholo Abhiyan
“Once I was appointed as the District Collector, I realised that the local police stations had several complaints about pathways being closed, and cases of land encroachments. But nothing was being done about them. These areas do not have proper roads, it is land registered under the Revenue Department. Owing to this, many had to take roundabout routes to reach their destination,” he mentions.
The first Raasta Kholo Abhiyan drive was launched on July 31, and 38 pathways were cleared. He worked with Panchayat Samitis, and the local police officers in those areas to clear the pathways, and install the patikas — or stones — which had details about the road’s name, and when it was made.
Naming The Streets After Women
But, the officer believed that it is not enough to just clear the pathways. He wanted to set up a system to ensure that no one closes the pathway again. To do that, he decided to call them Vidya Gaurav Patikas and name them after women/girls in that village, who have achieved something in the field of education or sports.
“This was a small gesture of thanks to the women, and a sort of sentimental appeal to get people to follow the rules. So, we installed patikas that have information about the pathway on them. Apart from that, there is also a GPS tracking system in the stones, which will intimate the police officers if it is tampered with,” he says.
Divya Sharma, a resident of Kuchera in Nagaur, is a state-level hockey player, and this year she was also the topper of her school, the Kalpana Chawla International School, in the Class X board exams. Now, she has a pathway named after her.
“I did not know that the road was going to be named after me, but when I got a call that morning, I was so surprised and excited. I was invited to the inauguration of the new raasta, and was even honoured by the officials. I know that many people in the village do not allow their daughters to complete their education, but with initiatives like this, maybe their thinking will change,” says Divya.
The Raasta Kholo Abhiyan drive will be conducted regularly on Fridays, and three pathways will be identified, cleared, and named after an achiever, on that day. Jitendra plans to continue doing this until all the pending cases are cleared.
While roads are traditionally named after war heroes and historical figures, this small initiative will ignite young minds to achieve greater milestones.
Image courtesy: Jitendra Kumar Soni
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)