The Railway Board is set to sanction a survey next week for bringing rail connectivity to Gehlore, the village of ‘Mountain Man’ Dashrath Manjhi, who had carved out a road from a hillock, working single-handedly with a hammer and crowbar for 22 years.
Manjhi, a Mahadalit belonging to the Musahar community, died in 2007.
Addressing a gathering at “Magadh Mahotsav” organised by Akshar Sansar Foundation on August 29, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu had said that he will explore the possibility of laying a railway line in Manjhi’s village.
He had said that he would also examine what can be done to preserve Manjhi’s memory.
The minister last week asked Executive Director (Public Grievance) Anand Swaroop to take the process further, sources said.
It is learnt that Swaroop has now asked Executive Director (Project Monitoring) Anjum Pervez to sanction a survey so that Gehlore can be linked to the nearest railway point.
“The survey will be sanctioned within a week. Once the project is sanctioned, the railway zone concerned will appoint an agency. The agency will carry out location survey and feasibility study to see how the village can be provided railway connectivity. As per the agency’s report, the financial implications will be examined,” a source in Railway Ministry said.
Kundan Kumar, president of Akshar Sansar, said: “The nearest railway point from the village is Jethian station, located 7 km away.”
Arun Kumar, the RLSP MP from Jahanabad constituency, under which Gehlore falls, said Prabhu’s plan to put Manjhi’s village on the rail map is an honour to a man who “sacrificed his life in a bid to ease the woes of people”.
“It is for the first time that the Central government has thought of bringing Gehlore on the railway map. It will go a long way in helping the villagers commute,” he said.
If railway lines reach Gehlore village, it will be nothing short of a twist of irony for Manjhi. It is said that nearly 40 years ago, while he was travelling to Delhi to meet then PM Indira Gandhi and take up Gehlore’s connectivity problems, he was forced out of a train as he did not have a ticket. He then reportedly marched to Delhi on foot.
Manjhi, on whose life a number of documentaries and a Hindi movie have been made, belongs to a community, which was once a strong support base of RJD chief Lalu Prasad and then backed JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar.
After breaking away from Nitish, former CM Jitan Ram Manjhi, who belongs to the same community and hails from Gaya, claims to represent the Musahars.
The BJP too has been reaching out to Dalits in the run-up to the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls.