A painful journey through the rough road to Meghane

Meghane village in Shivamogga district, which sits atop a hillock, has 64 houses and 323 voters.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

“In the past 10 years, at least 70 women of Meghane have given birth during the journey of 5.5 km to the hospital,” says Praveen Kumar of Nagavalli in Sagar taluk. He owns a pick-up vehicle with four-wheel drive and often gets calls from Meghane on health emergencies.

For him, it is a nightmare to drive with a person who is pregnant or ailing. “Given the rough road with ups and downs, women have given birth before reaching the pucca road,” he says. Similar is the experience of Raju Shetty, an areca grower of Meghane who also owns a four-wheeler. “I don’t know when the cries of the women in the village will reach the people in power,” he says.

Meghane village, which sits atop a hillock amid lush greenery, has 64 houses. There are 323 voters in the polling booth of the village. Like many villagers in the area bordering Sagar and Bhatkal taluks, the residents moved to Meghane after they were evacuated for the Liganamakki dam. A majority of them are from the Maratha community. The entire area surrounding the village is part of Sharavathi Wildlife Sanctuary.

The only connection to the outer world is a rough and narrow road. During the rainy season, the villagers avoid going down the hillock as it is a tedious task. Only in the time of health emergencies do they hire four-wheelers.

Youngsters commute by two-wheelers occasionally. Many have suffered serious injuries after falling off their bikes while negotiating the risky path. Gowramma, 65, who was riding pillion last year, suffered fractures in her legs and has been bedridden since then. “If there had been a pucca road, my mother would have been healthy,” says her son Narayana.

Kumar, a native of Meghane, died in an accident in Bhatkal, about 30 km away, in June 2019. The villagers carried the body on their shoulders for 5.5 km for the final rites in the village. Anganwadi staff members of the village have complained that they face difficulty in bringing foodgrains and eggs to the centre. Of the 100 eggs they carry, 10 to 20 are lost on the road.

After a long struggle, the villagers got power connection about 14 years ago. Now, the fight is on for a road. The villagers have resolved not to vote in any election, beginning with the gram panchayat polls, until their demands are fulfilled. “We have heard enough promises from the people in power. This time, we have resolved not to budge,” says Raju Shetty, a villager.

Letter to PMO

The residents have submitted memoranda to elected representatives and officers repeatedly. In July 2016, an SSLC student, Vibhashree R. Shetty, wrote to the Prime Minister’s Office seeking a road for the village. The PMO wrote to the Chief Secretary of the State to take appropriate action. However, there has been no movement since.

Luma, a resident of the village, says that during the Congress rule, Kagodu Thimmappa, the then MLA for Sagar and Revenue Minister, had got the work sanctioned under a NABARD-sponsored project for ₹80 lakh. “The contractor procured material and kept the stock. But objections were raised by the Forest Department. The forest officials did not allow the contractor to proceed with the work,” he says. He adds that he would not complain if he did not get rice under Anna Bhagya for a year, but road was more important.

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Printable version | Nov 26, 2020 4:37:36 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/a-painful-journey-through-the-rough-road-to-meghane/article32986696.ece

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