The Gujarat High Court has directed the Sabarkantha district administration and the Road and Building Construction Department of the district panchayat to begin construction on a 5.5-km approach road connecting eight villages on the Kheroj-Kotada road.
In an order issued on Thursday,Justice Ravi Tripathi directed the officials to begin the construction within 10 days from the date of order. The order was issued on a petition filed by Kanti Shankarbhai Parmar,one of the villagers.
According to the petition,the approach connecting eight villages was sanctioned under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana on August 27,2007,with a decision to begin construction on May 1,2008 and complete it on or before January 1,2009. The work,however,started quite late,that is,September 15,2008,and later on,the Forest Department objected to it saying it was being constructed on a forest land. The construction was subsequently stopped.
Following this,the petitioner and several other villagers approached the district development office,taluka development office and other officials informing them about the stoppage of work,but there was no response,they claim.
On October 16,2008,sarpanches of Dedka and Polapan villages received letters from the R&B Department of the district panchayat,saying new proposals had been forwarded for further allotment of land for the road.
On November 8,2008 and November 17,2008,the petitioner and other villagers again sent letters to the authorities pointing out difficulties faced by them in their day to day routine matters because of no road connection.
Subsequently,the Forest Department gave up the objection when it was allotted alternate land.
Again,the petitioners and villagers made representation to the authorities for resuming the construction,but it met no response. They pointed out that in the absence of a kutcha or metalled road,women and old persons were not able to avail medical facilities in Limbadiya village,eight kms away.
Also,schoolchildren from Class V onwards had to drop their studies,as they could not walk on foot to attend the nearest school in Limbadiya. They said that even the teachers posted in primary schools of the eight villages could not come on time,particularly during rainy season,due to the absence of an approach road.
After the authorities continued to ignore the issue,the villagers finally moved the high court,seeking justice.