Ashwani Parashar, an MBBS student from Dholpur, is trying to bring to light the plight of the remote village of Rajghat in the hope of making way for development.
When Ashwani Parashar visited Rajghat, a village only at a few kilometres’ distance from his hometown of Dholpur in Rajasthan, he was dumbstruck by its state. Everything that is called a ‘basic amenity’ in today’s world was lacking there, whether it was clean drinking water or electricity or an access road to the village.
Over the past few months, the final year MBBS student is trying to change the fate of the remote village.
Ashwani visited the village for the first time for a social initiative titled Sarthak Diwali that aimed at providing sweets as well as clothes to the underprivileged on the occasion of Diwali. He came to know about the village situated at about 5 km from Dholpur and decided to bring some sweets for the villagers.
“The village has a population of over 300-350. It’s located about 2 km from the main road and there’s no way for any vehicle to cover this distance. There is no road. The villagers walk to the main road every day. There’s no clean water, no electricity. The government school is only up to class 4 and there are few students to be seen. I was speechless at the state,” Ashwani recalls.
The village is situated on the border of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, and falls under the famous Chambal ki Ghaati (Chambal river basin) region. The water that they source from the Chambal River is extremely polluted and there’s an added risk of being attacked by crocodiles. There have been incidents of men and children being dragged away by crocodiles, but since there’s no other source of water, the villagers continue to risk their lives.
“You wouldn’t believe if I tell you some facts about the village. There’s no electricity, no water, no toilets in the village and therefore, there haven’t been any weddings in the village in over 20 years now. There have been only two weddings in the village in two decades,” says Ashwani.
After seeing the state of the village, Ashwani realised that he needed to do something for the villagers. He decided to shake up the authorities and create social pressure to bring the schemes to the village. As he, along with some of his friends, inquired and dug up information, he found out that on paper, the village comes under the Nagar Parishad of Dhaulpur. Being a part of the Nagar Parishad made it impossible for the village to avail the benefits of the schemes designed for panchayats.
“Then further when we approached the district authorities and the Nagar Parishad to develop the village, it was revealed that the village comes under the National Chambal Sanctuary and it was cited as a reason for years of inactivity. It’s so unfair. Rules are made for man. Of what use are these rules if they are interfering with man’s wellbeing?” asks Ashwani.
Ashwani has not given up hope yet. His constant badgering has borne fruit and the authorities have woken up. The District Collector’s office has gotten involved and there have been visits by different officials to the village. Media too have played their role and have brought the dire situation of the village to light.
Ashwani has been visiting the village frequently and has created a team of volunteers from the village that is supporting him in the cause. He soon wishes to file a PIL regarding the village’s plight.
“I don’t know where I will go once I complete my education. I want to ensure some development for these villagers before I graduate. And I want that development to be long-term. Initially we collected some money and provided them with hand pumps and some other utility items like solar lamps, but how long will that last? There needs to be a sustainable solution and that needs to come from the government since they have the resources and it’s their responsibility,” says Ashwani.
Ashwani now plans to start a campaign titled #SaveRajghat. By bringing the village’s state to everyone’s notice, he intends to build some pressure on the authorities to take action. Soon, the volunteers along with Ashwani, will be launching a social media campaign to give voice to the villagers’ plight.
“I couldn’t see the state of the village and just walk away. I had to do my bit, that’s all,” he says.
To know more about his campaign, contact Ashwani here.