The eyes of the local people of Silpata village in Chamoli district were dead tired after waiting for as long as 69 years, not for a deity or any angelic body to appear and take away their troubles but for the four wheels to run from their village. However, these ruddy-cheek villagers of Silpata were waiting for the four wheels to spun and take them all aboard, not for fun or any sort of merry-making but to help them cut off the distances that were parting them from the world outside. The world outside never looked fancy to them but all they wanted was to get a little relief from the pain that they experienced while dealing with sickness and injuries. There had been times when the screams of the women went silent when they were having labour pain as they knew they would be deprived of medical care because the village didn’t have any mode of transport to rush to the hospital.
When the good old folks understood they had nothing left with them but just fake promises that one-day things will change and they’ll get to see a four wheeler running to and fro from the village, they then decided to take the matter into their hands. A 21 km road connecting the tiny hamlet of Silpata with the tehsil headquarters at Adi Badri was made under the Pradhan Mantri Grameen Sadak Yojana after waiting for almost 69 years. By this time, several generations of the village had moved from the villages to the cities and were enjoying swift air flights by aeroplane while these villagers were waiting for the bus to arrive and set their foot onto it.
When the bus finally came to the Silapata village, everybody took a deep breath and thanked the heavens as they had spent their whole lives trekking several kilometers to reach the nearest market. There were times when the old villagers ran out of breath and had no other option than to take baby steps for reaching the market. Since their young children had moved to the cities for finding a good job and there was nobody at home to help them with the daily cores, now the elderly people stopped dreaming about a bus to come to their village. Kalam Singh Bisht, a resident of the village even said, “We had been hoping that a road would be built to our village ever since the country became independent. I am happy that it has somehow happened in this lifetime. Now, the future generation will not have to face the difficulties that we had to endure.”
The villagers couldn’t be happier and celebrated the homecoming of a bus operated by Uttarakhand Transport Corporation. The villagers held a welcome ceremony for the bus in which the local women dressed up in their best attires and performed a traditional dance. The people thanked Congress MLA, Anusuya Prasad Maikhuri from Karnaprayag for constructing the road. This joy would have come two years prior to this celebration if the road project wouldn’t have been postponed without any valid reason. A villager quoted that, “Most of the remote villages in our area had been linked with motorable roads two years back, but we kept waiting for the road for several years. We had to resort to repeated hunger strikes and protest marches before our project was taken up on priority.”
While Man has been on Moon, there are those dark corners of the world that are waiting for a bus to arrive, it’s a thought to ponder upon.
Inputs from TOI