July 14th, 2016
The folklore of Dashrath Manjhi is known nationally. Hailing from the Gehlaur village of Bihar, he had single-handedly carved down a path through a mountain which gave his small village access to the neighbouring town’s facilities. Thirty years later, Gehlaur, now also called Dashrathnagar, has been blessed with yet another Manjhi, who this time has solved the persistent water woes of the villagers. Meet Amit Kumar, a community correspondent at Video Volunteers Organisation which seeks to bring change through the power of social media.
Amit Kumar hails from the Obrail village of Bihar which is near to Manjhi’s Dashrathnagar. He has a Bachelor’s degree in sociology and works to spread awareness about water-related diseases and hygiene. While on one of his expeditions around the villages of Bihar, he came to know about the severe water crisis prevailing in Dashrathnagar. On enquiring, he got to know that the work done by contractors to install water pumps, taps and tanks was botched up and the system was not working properly.
“Traditionally the village used to lift water from wells” tells Amit Kumar. “The government got the tap system installed so that people don’t have to walk up to the wells. But the contractor did a shabby job and the entire pump-tank-tap system stopped working after some time. The walls of the water tanks developed leakages. This on one hand, snatched the water away from the well, but on the other hand, proved to be of no use to the villagers.”
Amit along with few workers of an NGO tried to approach the concerned department, but it turned a blind eye to the plight of the people of Dashrathnagar who were now left parched and dry. That’s when he decided to use the power of media. He made a video of the entire issue which highlighted the problem and showed accounts from local people. The video was showed to the government authorities who now suddenly sprang into action. Recalls Amit, “As they saw the video, they called up the contractor and asked them to take up repair in the village. They requested me to not show this video to anyone, and assured him that the work will be done within a week.” Amit followed up with the officials and after several meetings, the repair work finally started.
Today, the taps are working just fine. Villagers have now easy access to safe and clean water. “What could not be done in two years, this video did in two weeks. That is the strength of media today”, says a proud and satisfied Amit. He says this is the story of just one village. There are numerous such villages in Bihar, Rajasthan and West Bengal which are just as parched as Dashrathnagar was. More work needs to be done, says Amit.
The Logical Indian community is truly proud of Amit Kumar and thankful for his efforts to end the water woes of Manjhi’s village. His example shows how enlightened citizens can change the destiny of their people by holding the authorities accountable and spreading awareness. We hope to see more such efforts coming up from all over the country.
– Abhishek Mittal