October 20, 2020

Women build 2km lifeline

Nima (Banka): A group of women in a remote village of Banka district have done in three days what the government could not do for decades – build a road.

The roughly 2,000 residents of Nima, Jorarpur and Durgapur villages under Bounsi block in Banka district, around 276 km south-east of Patna, were facing many hardships because there was no approach road to their hamlets.

“It was especially painful during the rainy season,” said Rekha Devi, a middle-aged homemaker from Nima. “We could not even get to the block headquarters, hardly 2.5km from our village. Many deaths have occurred – especially of pregnant women – as they could not reach the health centres in time.”

Rekha recalled how in January this year, Babita Devi (28) died during delivery of her first child as her family could not take her to the primary health centre at Bounsi on time. Rekha said there had been dozens of such preventable deaths over decades for want of a road.

“Some 3-4 years ago, the local administration initiated land acquisition to build a road but due to protests by landowners the plan had to be abandoned,” said Jhalo Devi, another Nima resident.

With the rains approaching again, the village women took up the task, with a little help from the men. In three days, more than 130 homemakers built a 2km road.

Before building the road, the women approached the local landowners who had earlier refused to give their lands for the road. “They finally agreed to give their lands, and 70 per cent of this road is passing through private lands of local people,” said Jhalo Devi.

Landowners like Dashrath Mishra and Ramakant Jha said they agreed after they witnessed the zeal of the women.

“We also realised the pain of the villagers,” said Arjun Manjhi, another landowner.

Usha Devi, a homemaker from Nima, recounted how they started work on the 2km road by hoisting the national flag on the site.

“Many women from the two villages, Jorarpur and Durgapur, also joined us. The men in our homes first completed the groundwork. We carried sand, soil and stones from the riverbank nearby and barren lands. We would start work at sunrise and end in the evening. Now, light vehicles can easily ply on the road,” Usha Devi said.

The approach road connects the village with Bholi Baba Ashram Road near the Bounsi fair ground.

Banka district magistrate Kundan Kumar lauded the village women’s drive.

“Without taking the private land, the road was not possible; the government could not just take private land. But when the village women initiated the road work, the same landowners gave their consent,” the DM pointed out.

He said he would tell Bounsi block development officer Amar Kumar Mishra to convert the new road into a pucca one.

Courtesy: The Telegraph

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