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AP Villagers pool own money to lay road to hill-top

After waiting for decades for the district administration and successive state governments to lay a motorable road to the hill-top village, residents of Chintamala in Vizianagaram district pooled in the required money and laid a road — all by themselves.
 
The people from this village in Saluru mandal collected Rs. 6 lakh for the 3.5 km road to connect them to Sagumarri village, from where there are roads to other places. To pool in the required amount for the road, most villagers had to sell their harvest, while a few even mortgaged their valuables.
 
About 89 families live at the hill-top village of Chintamala and there is absolutely no connectivity to it, even after seven decades of India achieving its independence. The lack of road has also deprives the residents of access to healthcare and other basic rights, resulting in numerous hassles to lead a decent life. 
 
Chintamala is just 3 km from a village in Narayanapatna block of Odisha’s Koraput district, and the villagers depend on the nearby villages from the other state to sell their crop and make a living. 
 
For medical emergencies, they use a makeshift stretcher. None of the 14 hamlets in Kodama panchayat has road connectivity. “I contributed Rs 8,000 by selling paddy and ragi (finger millet), for laying of the road to the village,” said C.H. Raju, a resident. 
He added that as majority of the villagers are farmers, they earned the money to construct the road by selling their harvest, while a few others mortgaged valuables.
 
“We produce paddy, maize and other millets in our hilltop village, and transportation of the harvest is a big challenge to us. We carry our crops and walk to the nearby villages in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh to sell them,” Raju added. 
 
Similarly, the villagers of Bandapayi contributed about Rs. 15,000 to lay a road. The distance between Chintamala and Bandapayi hamlets is about a kilometre.
 
A footpath to the village was laid under the NREGS in 2017, but it later got covered by bushes. “We used earth movers to lay the road, and it took about 21 days to complete the process. Inspired by what the villagers of Chintamala had done, the residents of Kodama also laid a road, a stretch of 4 km from Barlaganda to Kodama village, at a cost of Rs. 4 lakh,” another villager said.
 
When contacted, Saluru MPDO Shivaramappa said a few hill-top villages in Kodama panchayat have no road connectivity. He said the residents of the hill-top village laid the road with their own funds to connect their locality to the nearby road. 
 
While this story is a classic example of local governance and how locals resolve their issues, it also highlights the neglect of the governments in the state despite the availability of funds. 
 
It would do the state government a great good if it begins a survey of how many villages across Andhra Pradesh are deprived of road connectivity and begin the exercise of laying roads, rather than sanctioning funds and not following up on the implementation or the routing of funds! 
 

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