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Friday, October 28, 2011

The man who moved the hill to bring road to village…..

To some, politics is  bad outright  and politicians do nothing good –

It is not the Metropolis or major cities but India still lives in villages – how many of us know or have been to or heard of villages named –  Agaramcheri, Alangayam, Andiyappanur, Chinnavarikkam, Chittiappanur, Eachampattu, Girisamudram, Kadavalam, Kammiyampattu, Kulidigai, Kurisilapattu,  Mallagunta, Mothagapalli, Nekkanamalai, Peddakallupalli, Sammandhikuppam, Shimugapattu,  Somalapuram, Thottalam, Udayendram, Valayambattu, Vellakkal, Velthikamanipenda  ................... and the like

Sure to you some do not even sound Tamil names and perhaps are situated elsewhere !!  These are some of the villages in Vaniyampadi  town of Vellore District.  Vellore, not far away from the capital Chennai is a district bounded by Tiruvallur, Kanchipuram, Thiruvannamalai, Krishnagiri Districts and north by Andhra Pradesh State. 

Many villages are green and are governed well by local leaders who are widely respected for their integrity and their will to serve their place.  There is the system of local self-Governments known as Gram Panchayats at the village or small town levels.  The Gram Panchayat is the foundation of the Panchayati Raj. The Sarpanch or Chairperson is the head of the Gram Panchayat. The elected members of the Gram Panchayat elect from among themselves a Sarpanch and a Deputy Sarpanch for a term of five years. In some places the panchayat president is directly elected by village people. The Sarpanch presides over the meetings of the Gram Panchayat and supervises its working. He implements the development schemes of the village.   The Sarpanch has the responsibilities of looking after street lights,  construction and repair work of the roads in the villages and also the village markets, fairs, festivals and celebrations,  keeping a record of births, deaths and marriages in the village, looking after public health and hygiene by providing facilities for sanitation and drinking water and providing for education.  A Himalayan task indeed !!

Though not a recent one – I had once shared the deeds of an extraordinary person  Dashrath Manjhi, who was once asked  by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to occupy his chair for a little over five minutes.  The CM had said that was one way of acknowledging the greatness of the great deed.  This real hero died in 2007 at AIIMS New Delhi and was accorded state funeral.  Dashrath Manjhi was born in 1934 into a poor labourer's family in Gahlour village near Gaya in Bihar. He fought a lengthy battle against the mountain – not out of any grudge but for a social cause. He was ridiculed in 1959 when he started hewing a way through the Gahlaur Ghati hills of Bihar’s Gaya district, some 150 km from Patna. Age, health, bereavement, criticism, ridicule -  nothing deterred him – as he carried on with grit for 22 years and made a reality 360ft-long, 30ft-wide road across the mountain. What was once a precarious passage just a foot wide became wide enough to accommodate cyclists and motorcyclists – helping locals hailing from nearby villages with ease.  From 1960 to 1982 it certainly was a long journey but the accomplishment of herculean task made him happy.

Now the newsitem in today’s (28th Oct 2011) ‘The New Indian Express’ – Chennai Edition makes us realize that such great men are not alone and there are some who are to be placed in the same pedestal. 

You read a list of some of the villages in Vaniyampadi Town in Vellore District.  One amongst those tiny tots of village is Veladhikamanipenta.  This hill village  near Vaniyambadi,  is on the district/state border of Andhra Pradesh – the death of a 85 year old person has the made the whole area sad and mourn the death.

Jalappa, is most illustrious son of this village.  He as the Village Panchayat, spent his life to ensure that the village gets connected with the rest of the World.   Veladhikamanipenta, is about 3,000 feet above sea level and  is a picturesque hill village, some 15 kms from Vaniyambadi.  There are more than 200 villages in the hills, most of them in Chittoor district of AP, sharing border with Vellore. All these villages had no transport facility and the villagers who had to sell their produce at the nearest town Vaniyambadi, had to trek the hills everyday.  Jalappa, as the panchayat president in 1972, was determined to get roads for the villages. He teamed up with another panchayat president, M M Basheer of Jafferabad in the foothills, who shared a similar vision. Both of them took up the matter with the TN and AP forest departments and got the approval for a road linking the National Highway 46 and NH 4 after a long struggle.  Basheer, who is in his eighties now, mourning the death of Jalappa, recalled how hundreds of villagers from the hills worked day and night to clear debris. The then District Collector Paramasivam, with the help of his counterpart in Chittoor, got the roadwork extended within its territory. The `70-lakh project began in 1972 and was completed in 1974. It was declared open by the then PWD minister.  While the road was ready, it did not have protective walls and hence, both the State governments had refused to ply transport services. After several efforts by Jalappa and Basheer, the wall work was completed and the mini bus service was introduced in 2008.

It was a day of delight and merriment not only for Jalappa & Basheer but also for the entire village which celebrated by distributing sweets when the buses carrying the villagers landed in Vaniyampadi.  But the visionary – Jalappa was not contented… he wanted the inter-state highway to be expanded to accommodate bigger  vehicles.  The duo once again began their visits to the government offices and got the NABARD sanction `2.28 crore two years ago. But the work had not been taken up.

The newspaper states that at old age of 85 the frail Jalappa went to Hyderabad last week  to seek the intervention of the government to move papers for the expansion work.  Today, Jalappa is no more.. the village mourns his death.. it might take a few more years – but he will live in the hearts of the villagers by his selfless great deed.  The one-acre land Jalappa had donated at Veladhikamanipenta for a school will stand testimony to this simple man, who had dedicated his life for his villages.

BHARAT – our Great Mother land has more Jalappas –  it rains still and  We are leading peaceful life only due such noble acts of such Great persons.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.


  1. Mr.Jalappa and Mr. Basheer's great work. oh god no more now to take up / continue the work. Sampath Kumar sir, is there any one to take this issue up between AP and TN govt and have a bus route facility between this town to V.Kota, K.G.F, Kuppam etc so that our town people will have a good journey without difficulty. God will defiantly give the benefits to those who continue the works of Jalappa's achievement.

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