Not unlike Indian Bihar's 'mountain man' Dasrath Manjhi - who spent 22 years to build a 360-foot-long road - a man in Odisha has single-handedly been moving mountains to construct a 15 kilometre road - all so he can send his sons to schools.
Armed with a hammer, digging bar and chisel, vegetable seller Jalandhar Nayak, has worked eight hours every day for two years to connect his village Gumsahi to the main road in Phulbani town of Kandhamal district. He has carved out an 8-kilometre-long stretch through hillocks and needs to extend it by another 7 kilometres in the next three years.
The 45-year-old tribal man, who has never had access to education, said the problems faced by his three sons in crossing the hillocks to reach school in the town prompted him to take up hammer and chisel.
The district administration has now decided to honour and support Nayak's efforts by paying him under the MGNREGS scheme.
"Nayak's effort and determination to cut mountains to build a road left me spellbound... He will be paid under MGNREGS scheme for all the days he has worked," Brundha D told reporters yesterday.
Nayak's efforts went largely unnoticed until yesterday when the collector invited him to her office, having read reports about him in a local newspaper.
The collector offered him financial support and directed the Block Development Officer (BDO) of Phulbani to engage labourers and complete the road construction work.
Interestingly, Nayak and his family are the only residents of the village. Others have left Gumisahi long ago owing to lack of proper road and essential facilities.
He thanked the district administration for recognising his efforts.
"The district collector has assured me to complete the construction of the road to my village," Nayak said.
The collector said they are planning to felicitate Nayak for his determination and hard work during the Kandhamal Utsav.