The villagers of Shantipur in Sahapur Panchayat under the old Malda block in Malda district of West Bengal have been suffering for years due to lack of a road to the village. The only way to get to the other side of the village is to walk through mango orchards, deep rice fields, or by crossing the Railway line. Repeated complaints to the Panchayat and Block authorities have been of no avail. Finally, the villagers themselves have come together to build a road for themselves.
Hundreds of villagers, men and women, have started the work of digging a kilometer-long road. Around five hundred families live in Shantipur. However, there is no road for the thousands of residents of the village.
Although a busy Railway track goes through the village, no road could be constructed owing to complications arising out of land possession issues. According to sources, the land acquisition process for building the road has been stalled due to a legal tangle. Local residents say that they reported the matter to the concerned administration several times, but it fell on deaf ears. Meanwhile, the villagers had to endure endless suffering while in the rainy season, not to mention the numerous people who were run over by trains while attempting to cross the railway track.
Finally, the villagers decided to take it all into their hands. Armed with spades and axes, they are busy in their work to lay a road to the village for a hassle free commuting.
Sahapur Gram Panchayat chief Ukil Mandal has welcomed the villagers’ initiative. According to him, work on roads needs to start soon, but could not be done owing to legal issues related to land acquisition. It is impossible for the villagers to acquire private land because of financial barriers. He also gave assurances that once the road is built, the Panchayat will cover the costs.