Their relentless fight for a road has entered the third generation. The people of Cherupuzha grama panchayat at Taliparamba, time and again being denied of this basic facility, have pinned their hopes on their younger ones. These children, on their part, have decided to fight till a solution is found.
A proper road to their region has been a dream of the residents of Cherupuzha for the past five decades now. The tarring of the Kokkadavu-Thekkanmavu-Choorakkadavu road, a 3.3-km stretch, would benefit nearly a 1,000 people, most of whom are farmers, residing in the neighbourhood.
Sharp boulders in the rough patch put them in extreme difficulty while transporting crops and fertilizers to and fro, while the younger generation has to tread this treacherous route on their way to school. Taxi jeeps which used to ply across — daring the peril — stopped services nearly two years ago and take the route only in emergency situations.
After continued pleas of the people failed to evoke any response, four children decided to take up the fight. Maria Luka, a class VIII student of the Kakkenchal St. Mary’s high school; Christina Jose and Ans Luka, class VII students of the Vishwajnan English Medium School; and Sebastian Lika, class IV student of the same school wrote a letter to the Prime Minister and received an immediate reply stating that the letter would be forwarded to the Chief Secretary. Things had an abrupt end there.
The foursome decided to meet the Chief Minister of the State and set off at 3 a.m. to Kannur for a mass contact programme and repeated their request when they finally met him at 2 a.m. the following day.
Enthused by the Chief Minister’s response, who immediately entrusted the Public Works Department executive engineer with the preparation of an estimate for the work, they returned home elated. The estimate along with the report of the District Collector was sent to the State capital in no time.
But, even after some swift procedures, their dream of a tarred road remained on paper. The children say that it is the PWD higher-ups who took a defiant stance in undertaking the work. The Chief Minister had taken an active interest in the work and eagerly enquired the work progress when he met them the next time, they say.
The apathy of the PWD was brought to the Chief Minister’s notice, after which the work was included in the Hill Area Development Agency (HADA) of the Planning and Economic Affairs Department, which estimated the project expense at Rs.1.10 crore. As much as 20 per cent of the total cost was to be borne by the panchayat, block, or from the MLA and MP fund as per HADA, another stumbling block for the little ones as none came forward with help.
A year and a half after they returned home with the promise of a road, the children are gearing up for the Chief Minister’s mass contact programme once again.
Meanwhile, District Collector Rathan Kelkar visited them a week ago and promised them that a fund which can constitute 20 per cent of the total cost would be thought over and considered, another silver lining for the little ones who have learnt a lesson of their life — the real hard way.