In the picturesque village of Toke Begar, nestled within the Bageshwar district of Uttarakhand, a remarkable story of resilience and community spirit unfolds. At the heart of this narrative is Mr. Prakash Bahuguna, a local hero, and the determined residents of this village. For a mere 800 meters of road, the people of Toke Begar and Mr. Prakash Bahuguna have endured an arduous journey, marked by struggles, sacrifices, and a persistent battle against bureaucratic apathy. Their tale is one of both pride and shame - pride in the indomitable spirit of the people and shame in the systemic challenges they had to navigate.
Toke Begar is situated within the Gram Sabha Pasdeo, in the heart of the Bageshwar district. Yet, this quaint village has been crying out for something seemingly basic - a proper road connecting it to the nearest motorable road, the Kafliger-Kolsheer motor marg. Spanning a mere 800 meters, this stretch of road represents dreams, aspirations, and, most importantly, hope for the villagers. Their impassioned plea has reached the highest echelons of power, addressed to none other than the Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi.
The absence of rudimentary facilities has driven scores of villagers to migrate in search of a better life. Presently, only a handful of families remain in Toke Begar. The reasons behind this mass exodus are multifaceted, including the lack of proper road connectivity, perennial water scarcity, the looming threat of wildlife, chronic unemployment, and pervasive poverty.
The odyssey for road connectivity has been a protracted and demanding one for the people of Toke Begar. Despite their indefatigable efforts, numerous impediments have obstructed their path:
· Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY): The village initially sought assistance from PMGSY, with hopes of attaining the coveted road connectivity. However, PMGSY norms indicated that Toke Begar was already linked to the road network, a claim vehemently contested by the villagers.
· Rural Engineering Services (RES): Following an unpromising response from PMGSY, the villagers approached the Rural Engineering Services department. Here, a ray of hope emerged as the department estimated a budget of INR 134.72 lakhs for constructing a 1.25-kilometer road. However, the awaited budget approval remained elusive.
· Advocacy and Outreach: Frustrated but undeterred, the villagers embarked on social media campaigns and email initiatives to raise awareness about their predicament. Yet, these endeavors failed to yield tangible results.
· MLA Intervention: Exasperated by the lack of progress, the villagers sought the intervention of their MLA, Late Shri Chandan Ram Das. Armed with a petition signed by every villager, they petitioned the MLA during his visit to a locality near Toke Begar. The crux of their plea was the villagers' unanimous agreement to contribute their own land for the road's construction, without any compensation. He understood the issue and agreed to provide an amount of INR 1 Lakh through Vidhayak Nidhi for the surveyor to do the survey for road/Sampark Marg.
· Survey was done by Gramin Vikash Vibhag amd out of an Estimate submitted for approval for Rs 18.34 lakhs, only half amount 9.31 Lakh rs was approved by the department. With that amount 75 M Safety wall, 1 causeway, 1 Scupper, and 400 M temporary drainage systems work was completed.
Despite their unwavering determination and numerous efforts, only 220 meters of roadwork have been completed to date. An estimated amount of Rs. 28,83,216.36 is still required to finish the remaining 600 meters of the road.
This story of Toke Begar encapsulates the larger struggle faced by many remote villages in India. It underscores the need for more efficient and responsive governance that respects the contributions of its citizens. While Mr. Prakash Bahuguna and the residents of Toke Begar have shown immense fortitude, it is imperative that such struggles become a thing of the past.
Their journey serves as a poignant reminder of the transformative power of community and the relentless spirit of individuals like Mr. Prakash Bahuguna. It is a call to action, urging authorities to streamline processes, uphold promises, and ensure that citizens' contributions are acknowledged and respected.
As Toke Begar eagerly anticipates a brighter future with improved connectivity, their narrative stands as an enduring testament to the unwavering determination of rural India.