Andhra Pradesh 'Mountain Men and Women' makes its own way

VISAKHAPATNAM: A group of tribes joined together to establish a powerful path to connect their remote villages in the Visakhapatnam agency areas, after years of neglect and apathy from the state government.

The nine village tribals grouped locally available material and worked for almost three weeks to complete the 7 km long kutcha path, which provides vital connectivity to inaccessible habitats in the eastern Ghats. Near the nearest panchayat headquarters in almost 15 km, 250 families comprising 1,500 tribes from these nine villages had no choice but to trace the road themselves, as there was no official help despite the numerous pleas for a road.

The tribes do not have access to electricity and medical services; Witnesses said there have been cases of pregnant women who were transferred to the nearest health center.

The project took off at the initiative of four tribal youth. Four of us took on the task of motivating hill residents in the nine villages. We are happy that our efforts are finally paying off, said Paduvula Buchanna, one of the quartets.

The tribes began work on January 23 and completed a 7 km long kutcha path in approximately three weeks. They took turns, with a team of hundreds working daily at an average of almost 2.5 km per day. This task has also brought together three tribal communities that would otherwise be elusive. The three groups are Muka Doras, Konda Doras and Kondus.

The state government had sanctioned Rs 40 lakh for the road during 2018-2019 under the NREGS grant. DK Balaji, project director of the Integrated Tribal Development Agency, said the highway project will be under NREGS and that the tribes involved in the work will be paid for their work.

This is a tremendous effort, but this path will not be enough. These mud roads will be dragged during the rainy season; We are planning to enter a full-fledged metal path, Balaji said.

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