VELLORE: After waiting in vain for over half-a-century for the officials to meet their long-standing demand for a road connecting their villages to the plains, the residents of Necknamalai Hills near Vaniyambadi decided to take matters into their own hands, and lay it by themselves on Monday.
The road, which was to be built using mud, would have spanned nearly three km, but the forest officials attached to the Tirupattur division put a dampener on their hopes.
A group of around 150 men, women and youngsters with sickles, spades, shovels, and iron bars, began to clear the bushes on a stretch of two km along the steep hills connecting their village to the plains. They had planned to lay a mud road after clearing the bushes. “We had decided not to wait for the officials anymore. We decided to lay the roads on our own after we received no response to our petitions sent over 20 days ago to the CM Special Cell, the Collector, the Project Officer of the DRDA, Revenue Officials and senior officials of the Forest Department,” said Munusamy a resident of Necknamalai.
The villagers had recently sent 460 letters via register post to the Chief Minister’s Special Cell to draw the attention of the government to their decades-old demand. According to them, they had been waiting for the road since Independence.
Officials had been promising to lay the road, but nothing concrete had ever materialised. However, this time, a contingent of Forest officials reached the spot well in advance and objected to the villagers’ action. This resulted in a heated argument between the villagers and forest officials. “It was the second time that the forest officials stopped our efforts to lay a mud road. The members of the Necknamalai Youth Welfare Association attempted to lay a mud road to Kothakottai in the plains in 2002, but were stopped by the Forest officials when they began clearing the bushes and weeds,” said another villager. The Forest officials told the villagers they had sent a plan to lay a six-foot-thick road for 2.7 km from the foothills to Necknamalai village. But, the government had sought some clarifications in the project. “We will send the clarifications. Once the processing is done, and the government passes an order and grants funds, the road-laying work will be taken up,” said an official.