Eight hours of gruelling work every day for two years, Jalandhar Nayak has been single-handedly moving mountains to construct a 15-kilometre road, connecting his village Gumsahi to the main road in Phulbani town of Kandhamal district.
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.
Much like Bihar’s ‘mountain man’ Dasrath Manjhi, who has spent 22 years of his life to build a 360-feet road, Nayak, with his steely resolve, has carved out an 8-km-long stretch through hillocks in two years and plans to extend it by another 7 km 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.
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.
Armed with a hammer, digging bar and chisel, Nayak, who earns his livelihood by selling vegetables, wants to make life easier for his sons.
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.
“We are thinking of felicitating Jalandhar Nayak during the Kandhamal Utsav for his strong determination to construct a road in this remote part of the state,” she said.