Roads don’t lead to better life in Rajasthan village

By Azera Rahman, IANS

Basari Kalan (Rajasthan) : After nearly a century of its existence, Rajasthan’s tiny Basari Kalan village has finally got a road linking it to the rest of the world. But villagers complain that the path-breaking event has not really led to a better life.

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Reason? While the village is now at the far end of a 70-km concrete road that connects it to Jaipur, the villagers even now trek long distances on foot. The road hasn’t brought public transport to Basari Kalan.

For this the villagers are blaming bad planning. Had the road been extended an additional three kilometres to Raithal village, the World Bank-funded project would have meant a turning point to Basari Kalan. That, unfortunately, has not happened. The authorities say it is unlikely to happen any time soon. So, many of Basari Kalan’s 500 odd residents say theirs is a case of development work going wrong – as far as they are concerned.

“What is the point of having a road when there is no bus or tempo coming here? There is no difference in our lives; it’s all the same,” lamented Dharanwi, a housewife.

“It has been two years since the road was built. It is a good move, we are sure. But we are not really reaping the benefits. We still have to walk seven kilometres to the nearest health centre in another village.

“An additional three kilometres of road till Raithal, which has a health centre and which gets public transport like buses and tempos, would have made life easier for us,” Dharanwi told IANS.

Sitting in front of her house, Dharanwi looked tired and feeble. “The doctor told me that I have typhoid. The long walk (to the health centre) and the illness is killing me,” she cried.

Ratni, another woman of the village, also said things were as bad as before. “Even if a person is dying we can’t rush him to the hospital,” she said. And what about pregnant women whose delivery is due?

“They have to walk as well. At times, we hire a taxi and then go to the health centre,” Ratni replied.

While Jaipur is a good 70 km from Basari Kalan, via the other two villages which are connected by concrete road, the distance would be reduced to just over 45 km via Raithal.

So the people of Basari Kalan mostly walk the three kilometres of muddy and bumpy stretch to Raithal, or cover the distance on the bicycle, to take a bus to Jaipur.

The road from the national highway to these villages was constructed two years ago under the Rural Road Project to build an all-weather road, a part of the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) directly monitored by the office of the prime minister.

The project is funded and supported by the World Bank, whose officials
insist that the villages have developed from the road projects.

Talking about the missing link between Basari Kalan and Raithal, Jaipur
district magistrate Akhil Arora said that connecting Basari Kalan and
Raithal was not a priority.”Basari Kalan is already connected by concrete road. And so is Raithal, from the other side, to the national highway. Now to connect these two villages is not a priority.

“People obviously want the shortest routes, the most comfortable ones. But our priority is to connect all villages by roads. Only after we complete our task in all villages of the state will this matter be looked after,” Arora said.

No wonder, the villagers are crying.

“Because there hasn’t been much of a difference in commuting, the kinds of jobs we get have also remained the same. We are not prospering,” said Kalram Sen, a resident of Basari Kalan.