On Nitish Kumar’s Roads, Down the Memory Lanes

We entered Bihar through the prestigious Golden Quadrilateral (GQ) from Varanasi on April 19. However, between Karamnasa and Sasaram, some stretches are still not complete. The bypass Sasaram is still not ready, though we would not have used it. Internal roads in Sasaram remain as bad as it used to be. Can’t Nitish Kumar’s government do something out of the box to improve its condition? Sasaram, being an old town deserving a heritage status, could have attracted a lot of tourists. But basically, nothing has come up during these years to make the stay in Sasaram possible, neither some hotels nor any eating houses.

The rural roads as I mentioned in my earlier entry are under construction and perhaps are being given priority and rightly so, as there live the majority of the vote banks. Early morning on April 20, we started for Patna by road. The road from Sasaram to Bikramgunj is horrible. In many places, it is not even good enough for bullock carts. I couldn’t understand if it is because of so many rice mills that has come up all along this rice bowl of the state. Some innovative entrepreneurs could come up with new enterprises based on the byproducts of the agricultural outputs of the area that is fertile for all sorts of vegetables and cereals such as rice and wheat. A railway track has been laid between Sasaram and Bikramgunj that will connect Arrah on the main line in time. It reminded me of the private light railways of the yester years that used to connect Sasaram to Arrah. In my childhood I had used the same many times. Many a times, my grandfather had accompanied me.

From Bikramgunj, our vehicle followed the road through Dawath upto ‘Malia-ka-Bag’. While traveling on the road, I got a nostalgic feeling. It was the road that I traveled many times since my early childhood. My maternal village Bodarhi is just half a kilometer west off Dawath. We built a new house here when I was working in HM. My parents were living here- my mother since my childhood and my father joined her when my maternal grandfather died. But after the death of my mother, we found it difficult to manage the landed property effectively. The neighbours and so-called relatives were just rogues. It was impossible to live under that condition of fear and tension.

After Malia-Ka-Bag, the driver turned towards Jagdishpur of Kuer Singh, the hero of 1857 war of freedom to reach Arrah. Surprisingly, the road is in much better. It is only when we were nearing Arrah, we found the road surface deteriorated requiring repair. It is a part of national highway joining GQ at Mohania.

The taxi-operators don’t take the old straight road between Bikramgunj and Arrah as it may be more time taking because of its poor surface condition. Otherwise that would have been a shorter route to Patna.

The driver was not very friendly, though the owner was known to my cousin, Surendra and perhaps his neighbour. We had started at 5.30 AM for this five and a half hours drive, and didn’t get even the morning tea that early. He finally stopped only at a place after we crossed Arrah. And there was hardly anything at the stall, but a cup of tea. Perhaps for security reason, the vehicle crawled slowly through the Danapur cantonment area. We had visited Danapur twice when Ashok, my cousin was here in Railways before moving to Vadodara.

To take story of Nitish Kumar’s roads in Bihar, we traveled to Nalanda, Rajgrih, Pawapuri going through a short route from Phatua. But that road up to Biharsarif was in bad shape for the most of the stretch and is getting widened. The driver could realize his mistake late. So we decided to return via Bakhatiarpur. The road is in excellent shape.

But the route followed gave me chance passing through Noorsarai, a small town near Biharsarif, where I had spent some 15 days working with Peace Mission volunteers in December 1966. I was deputed by Jai Prakash Narayan’s Bihar Draught Relief Programme of the year when Bihar faced an unprecedant draught. I had volunteered to work for him, while I was on my annual holidays in Bodarhi. My wife was expecting Rakesh. She remained with my mother at Bodarhi.

While at Noorsarai in that cold December of 1966, we had to sleep on the benches of a primary school of the village. We used to take the food at the road side stalls. It was unpalatable, but there was no way out. After the 10-12 days of working with those foreigners on re-boring of dried wells, I fell ill. I got unique assistance from the sarpanch, headmaster, and the doctor of the village (trio). Dr. Sinha was a Bengali living in the village and practicing. It proved that I was not fit for the hard way of living that is required for the type of life one is to live if one wishes to do something for the society.

We drove past the high school where the trio organized a dinner for us. I remember that dinner vividly that was laid on the huge conference table made out of finely finished mosaic concrete surface. They had arranged many courses- veg and nonveg with many types of drinks. I didn’t know how they managed that. It was beyond my imagination in those days.

With whomsoever I talked during my five nights stay in Bihar, it was a 100% positive response regarding the Nitish Kumar’s honest effort in bringing Bihar back in lime light with work on road and rural electrification all around the state.

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