With the Maha Bodhi Express chugging on the outermost platform of Sasaram on March 17, I got the first glimpse of the works on development. Ludhiana-Kolkata freight corridor is getting executed fast. Sasaram comes on the route. One more overhead bridge on the railway track is under construction
I found Alok has almost totally transformed the family house under his control. It’s almost like an urban house. It has good toilet and water connection. Unfortunately Alok couldn’t do much about power. As per the board displayed at the entrance of the village, Pipra has been electrified by a scheme of the central government. We never got electricity after Holi till we left. It will be the test for the centre and Nitish or both if they wish to keep its promise of ‘electricity for all by 2012’.And without grid power, one can’t think of a major improvement in the quality of living.
With every passing year, I find the prosperity of Pipra is getting better. Pipra with a population of about 300 families is today having almost all pucca houses, TV in every house. It has 10 harvester-combines each costing about Rs 16 lakh, 35 tractors, and about 10 passenger vehicles. Mahindra’s Balero and Scorpio are very popular, but one can see even Logan. Every house has one or more motorcycles.
The good crops of wheat and mustard in fields allover really excited me. The village had good yields in paddy too this year. The younger generations has entered the farming and are trying to emulate the best from the local success stories.
The village has two rice mills with at least one more in planning. Each has a capacity of one ton an hour. One is using the husk for cutting the consumption of diesel in the generator set. I wish one of the PSU banks would have opened a branch and provided the credit for these entrepreneurs. May be, soon someone uses the huge quantity of paddy husk to generate electricity for power generation as it is already being done in North Bihar. Can someone innovate a simple way of briquetting the husks for easy transportation and better efficiency of heat generation? Even the rice bran dusts get sold to those who are using it for getting edible oil or cattle feed from it.
I saw every villager better dressed. The girls are going to schools. I talked with a group of them who have appeared for the final examination. Unfortunately, there is no school for class XI and XII in or near the village. Most can’t afford to send the girls to Sasaram for higher education. It’s because the colleges don’t teach anything in normal college hours. Students are forced to go for coaching even for the basic courses. Education provided by government colleges have failed because of unscrupulous teachers. Private schools are unaffordable for most of the farmers. Nitish Kumar and his government will have to work hard to clear the mess in education. Teachers must ensure good education for their students or get out. The government and the people must not tolerate them anymore.
And with the prosperity has come the bad habits. Every family has one or more habitual alcoholics and the so-called pouches are available easily. I was really shocked that even kids are getting into the habit.
On the day of return I visited one heritage site of Sher Shah Era for the first time that could have been developed and saved. It’s a huge water body with an island in the centre and a pathway almost on the same pattern of Sher Shah Mausoleum in Sasaram. Unfortunately it remains neglected till date. A good government could have created a paradise out of it. Instead it is full with filth all around.
Sasaram Railway Station presented a pathetic picture. After seeing the people at the platform sometimes I wonder if even in next 100 years all Indian would cross the poverty line.