Odisha, Jan 14: A resident of Kandhamal in Odisha has carved out an 8-km road from a mountain to connect his village to the town so that his children can go to school without facing problems. He plans to extend the road by another 7 km in the next three years.
The 45-year-old Jalandhar Nayak, who is a vegetable vendor, has been single-handedly working for eight hours every day since two years to move mountains to construct the road connecting his village Gumsahi to the main road in Phulbani town of Odisha’s Kandhamal district.
Narrating the ordeal, Nayak told ANI, “There was no school, anganwadi in the village and we had to go to the city through a difficult terrain, so I decided to construct a road. Even no hospital here, once I had to carry my pregnant wife 3 miles in a dola (basket) through it.”
On the other hand, SK Jena, Block Development Officer, said,”It is an almost inhabitable area where he lives, we had invited him to come and live in the city but he refused. Our support is there for him, whether he will be felicitated or not is not decided as yet.”
Notably, earlier there were reports that the district administration has decided to honour and support Nayak’s efforts by paying him under the MGNREGS scheme. “Nayak’s effort and determination to cut mountains to build a road left me spellbound… He will be paid under MGNREGS scheme for all the days he has worked,” collector Brundha D was quoted as saying in a PTI report.
Nayak’s efforts went largely unnoticed until January 9 when the collector invited him to her office, having read reports about him in a local newspaper.
The collector offered him financial support and directed the block development officer (BDO) of Phulbani to engage labourers and complete the road construction work. “We are thinking of felicitating Jalandhar Nayak during the Kandhamal Utsav for his strong determination to construct a road in this remote part of the state,” she said.
Interestingly, Nayak and his family are the only residents of the village. Others have left Gumsahi long ago owing to lack of proper road and essential facilities.
Nayak’s story, in a way, is similar to Bihar’s ‘mountain man’ Dasrath Manjhi, who spent 22 years of his life to build a 360-feet road through a mountain, reducing the route between two districts by 42 KM. His efforts have been portrayed in 2015’s Ketan Mehta directorial Manjhi: The Mountain Man starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Radhika Apte in lead roles.
Dasrath Manjhi died in 2007 and was accorded a state funeral.