Tuesday 16 January 2018

Indian man carves road through hills so children can attend school

Jalandhar Nayak used a chisel, hoe and pickaxe to dig five-mile route, with officials planning to compensate him for his efforts, writes Michael Safi in the Guardian. Read on: 

A man in a remote eastern Indian village has single-handedly carved a five-mile (8km) road through hilly terrain to help his children attend school.

It had been taking Jalandhar Nayak’s three sons about three hours each way to navigate the narrow, rocky route to class. So two years ago the vegetable seller from Odisha state picked up a chisel, a garden hoe and pickaxe and began building a shorter route.

His efforts came to the attention of government officials this week when he was featured in a local media bulletin.

“My children found it hard to walk on the narrow and stony path while going to their school. I often saw them stumbling against the rocks and decided to carve a road through the mountain so that they can walk more easily,” he told News World Odisha.

“Nayak’s effort and determination to cut mountains to build a road left me spellbound,” the local administrator, Brundha D, told reporters.

He said Nayak, 45, would be paid for the time he had spent building the path between Gumsahi village and the school in Phulbani, according to the Press Trust of India.

The family are the only remaining residents of Gumsahi, with the rest of the village having left for areas with better roads and amenities.

 Jalandhar Nayak and his family are the only residents of the remote village of
Gumsahi in eastern India. Photograph: BBC India
Nayak had planned to work for another three years to build the remaining four miles (7km) required to complete the road – a job that has now been taken over by the local government.

“The district collector has assured me [he will] complete the construction of the road to my village,” Nayak said.

Footage of Nayak labouring has been aired on national TV, showing him carving out the route and struggling to line it with small boulders.

His story is being compared with that of Dashrath Manjhi, a labourer from Bihar who spent 22 years building a road through a mountain, reportedly reducing the route between two districts by 42km.

Manjhi’s efforts, which have inspired several films, were prompted by injuries his wife suffered while trying to cross the mountain to bring him lunch. He died in 2007 and received a state funeral.

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