KANKER (CHHATTISGARH): Kanker district of Chhattisgarh is in news once again, but this time it is not about Naxal violence. For the first time since Independence, the tribal-dominated district, which is a part of the Red Corridor, caught the attention of the police administration, which cleared a 6-km road route traversing a 650-metre inclined, forested and rocky landscape. The road became operational on Friday.
The connecting road is set to link inaccessible settlements and change the lifestyle of the tribals who live in the inhospitable terrain barely 15-km away from the Kanker district headquarters. “Ever since Independence our villages had remained deprived of a route to connect us with the main roads. Every election we raised our demands for road connectivity, but all we got were promises and no action,” said Lachhanu Mandavi, the Patel (elected chief) of Marrapi village.
The road connects more than 2,000 tribal families in around half-a-dozen remote and undeveloped villages, including Marrapi, Useli, Kalmuchhi, Marme-Kanali and Nilegondi.
The road initiative was taken up by Kanker police, led by Deputy Inspector General of Police Ratan Lal Dangi, as they realised the hardships faced by the villagers while commuting to and from the nearest road, which is 6 km away, and constructed under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana. The entire stretch is full of rocky elevations and uneven ditches.
“We found the hamlets living an extremely difficult life. They practiced primitive style of farming as tractors and modern tools could not be brought to their fields. So a road was much-wneeded,” Dangi told The Sunday Standard.
“The construction of a road in the presence of Maoists was a challenging task. Overcoming the numerous slopes, creating routes through the uneven terrain, slicing the mountains, removing heavy rocks etc was indeed daunting,” said Kanker SP K L Dhruv.
In November 2017, the police began exploring the accessible path for the road and the villagers offered voluntary labour. “We used our available resources like JCB road and paving machines, and a couple of tractors to transport surface layer materials and tippers,” said Dangi.
On any working day the women labourers outnumbered the men. Before the construction of the road, the villagers had difficult access to their daily ration and health facilities as commuting was difficult. “After the road’s construction, now most vehicles ply to and fro our village. We are thankful to the police for this initiative,” said Sonu Ram Netam, a former Border Security Force officer.