The Telegraph
Monday , May 26 , 2014
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Poll results cast cloud on ritual, key projects
Village moans Nitish exit

Villagers in Dharhara believe the resignation of Nitish Kumar from the chief minister’s post would jeopardise several ongoing development work and render them “orphans”.

They also fear that the custom of planting a mango sapling on the birth of a girl child, would come to an end.

The otherwise sleepy hamlet under Gopalpur block of Naugachia sub-division in Bhagalpur, was catapulted into primetime news after Nitish made it a norm to visit the hamlet on World Environment Day and plant a mango sapling in the name of a girl child.

The residents here are shocked and frustrated. Many of them believe that the hamlet would no longer be cared for. “Would Nitish continue his good work for the village? Would he still undertake planting of sapling during the birth of a girl child?” asked Ashok Singh, a resident. Ashok had been watching TV on Monday night, which beamed the news of Jitan Ram Manjhi taking over the reins from Nitish.

“Development work would come to a halt as local officials would not pay attention to our plight,” said Promod Singh (28), a landless agriculture labourer. On June 6, 2013, Nitish had planted a sapling in the name of Promod’s daughter Rani. The child, however, died on April 10, 2014, owing to diarrhoea.

Munni Devi, Rani’s mother, who has been ill since her daughter’s death, said: “I am expecting a baby soon but I am worried owing to my poor health. I decided to call on Nitishji to narrate my problems but his resi- gnation has spoiled my plans,” she said with a bit of frustration.

Chinta Devi, another homemaker of the village, echoed Munni’s sentiments. “The resignation of Nitishji has spoiled everything. We have been rendered helpless. We have been orphaned,” she said.

Gopalpur block development officer Ravishanker Prasad was, however, hopeful. “We don’t know what would happen in the coming days but we are ready to celebrate World Environment Day this time too in a grand manner,” he said.

He added: “After the polls for the Bhagalpur Lok Sabha concluded on April 24, deputy development commissioner Chandrashekhar Singh came to the village to monitor on-going developments projects.”

Lallan Roy, a social activist at Gopalpur, termed Nitish’s resignation a major setback for Dharhara. “But we are still hopeful that Nitish would continue his good work in Dharhara to protect the environment and spread awareness on saving the girl child,” he said.

On June 6, 2010, Nitish had identified this unique custom by residents of Dharhara and made it a point to visit the village on World Environment Day during the past three years. To promote the custom, Nitish had started planting mango saplings every year on the name of a newborn girl child. Many civic works too were taken up in the village on Nitish’s initiative. Roads, electricity, community hall, primary health centres, primary and middle schools and others were developed.

Dharhara was declared a model village and Bhagalpur Agriculture University (BAU), Sabour, took keen initiative in providing supports to farmers for better yield.

In 2012, the Bihar tableau displayed this unique custom of Dharhara — plant- ing mango saplings for the birth of a girl child during the Republic Day parade in New Delhi.

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