Rural areas are hard-pressed for a good transportation system. Is it too much to ask for?

As part of my field work in International Justice Mission (IJM), I had to meet clients staying in a remote village called Elappakam in Kancheepuram district. To reach Elappakkam, one has to board a bus that comes on a timely basis or by a share auto from Acharapakkam. Share autos are more frequent when compared to buses, but still one has to wait for at least an hour to get a share auto, so people wait in huge numbers at Acharapakkam. I was waiting for an auto to come soon.

After a long time, one came and within 10 seconds, people barged in and the auto was full. The auto was modified to accommodate 15 people. I was lucky enough to get in and sat beside the driver. I was precariously perched on the driver’s seat and was holding on to an iron rod for balance. I held my bag on my left hand. It’s a 12 km-stretch from Acharapakkam to Elapakkam, and my unsteady position and the dismal road conditions made the ride difficult. Halfway there, a bunch of school students were waiting for a share auto. I was hoping the driver wouldn’t stop as there was no more space, but he stopped and let the children in. Now the auto had 20 people. One man was standing on the footboard and smiled at me. My eyes almost popped out of my sockets.

As realisation dawned on me that this can happen only in India, another woman got in. All this amused me, but then I understood that these villagers face such difficulties every day. Buses that ply between these villages are few. More than 10,000 people live in these areas and transportation is a big concern for them. The mini bus system introduced in urban areas was appreciated by many. Why can’t a similar system be implemented in rural areas connecting remote villages to the main town? It would bring development in all aspects to these villages.

The writer is a student of II Year, MSW, Madras Christian College

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