Tuesday was a joyous day for the 900-odd residents of Nekkinamalai, 7 km from Ambur and 1,500 feet above sea level, following two ministers praising them for the mud road the locals laid with their own funds.
Tuesday saw Labour Minister Nilofer Kafeel joining the cavalcade to Nekkinamalai as the mud road allowed vehicles to reach the top in quarter of the time it took them by walk earlier. The work was completed in 24 days.
According to EM Munusamy, director of the local cooperative society, “the road was laid with all dwellers participating and donating funds while a friendly JCB owner allowed us to use his machinery at a reduced cost.” Locals P Govindaraj and K Rajendran, echoing Munusamy’s words, said “we requested officials to allow us to at least widen the footpath we were using and they also obliged.”
A visibly elated traditional village headman Kasi when asked for his reaction said “now we can at least use two wheelers to reach Ambur as earlier we had to use dhoolies (cloth slung under a pole carried by two persons) to take sick persons to hospital in the plains.”
Revenue officials said that while the 7-km stretch included 2 km of revenue land, there was no problem in allowing the locals to form the road as otherwise redtapism would have held up the project indefinitely.
As an official on condition of anonymity said “when we sought the help of the forest department, they too obliged and told the locals to widen the right of way they enjoyed from British times without axing any trees.”
Top officials revealed that necessary clearances from the Central government’s Environment and Forest Ministry unit based in Bengaluru for the project was anticipated within a month when the mud road would be converted to a macadamised stretch. “If not for COVID-19 intervening, the project would have been completed by now” he added.