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10 February 2017

Uttarkashi village can't wait for politicians, builds its own road

It is not unusual to see people in Uttarakhand's hilly villages build their own roads. One such village is Daang in Uttarkashi district.

Residents say politicians don't like coming to their village because, well, no road connects the village with the world outside, and politicians wouldn't want to soil their ironed clothes walking on the bare hillside.

The state assembly election is on February 15. But no politician has visited this village, residents say. So they have started carving a hillside to make a decent path with their bare hands.

One of the villagers leading the crude road project is 83-year-old Dilma Devi. She says participated in the Chipko movement in the 1970s alongside the environment activist of yesterday, Sunderlal Bahuguna.

Chipko movement was the sum total of a series of protests when villagers hugged trees to prevent woodcutters from felling them. It started in Chamoli district (then in Uttar Pradesh, now in Uttarakhand) in 1973. The movement was the brainchild of Garhwali environmentalist, Sunderlal Bahuguna, and his wife. Both were followers of Mahatma Gandhi's philosophy of non-violence.

Tenders are the easiest way to make money in the middle of nowhere. This hill state is dotted with bridges that serve no purpose. For example, (top) this work-in-progress contraption on Assi Ganga valley in Uttarkashi district is sandwiched between two hills with no road on either side.

Another forgotten bridge at Sangam Chatti in Uttarkashi district. The locals say the contractor stopped building it after realising midway that the alignment had gone haywire.

Ganeshpur village, Uttarkashi district.

These photos first appeared in The Times of India on 10 February, 2017. 

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