Man builds 2.4km road over mountain... using hand tools

By Andrew Buncombe

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

Gyan Singh Neengwal wasn't going to let the little matter of a mountain get in the way of his plan to build a short-cut to the nearest town.

Fed up with a nine mile round trip walk every time he and other villagers needed to stock up on supplies or visit the nearest clinic, he decided to construct a direct road over the hilltop. Three years after he began the challenge using only hand tools, the road has just been completed.

A report in India's Daily Bhaskar newspaper said the industrious 40-year-old completed the 1.5 mile (2.4 kilometers) long road, which measures 5ft wide, with the help of his two wives, who pitched in from time to time. Other villagers also helped after seeing his initial dedication to the idea and realising how the project could make everyone's life better if it was completed.

Mr Neengwal makes his living as a farmer in a hamlet close to Niwali, about 100 miles south of the city of Indore, in the state of Madhya Pradesh.

Much of the work on the road was done in between his work in the fields.

The achievement of Mr Neengwal, which provides a short-cut for 70 families living in his hamlet, echoes that of the late Dashrath Manjhi, a poor, illiterate labourer from Atri, close to Bodh Gaya in the north Indian state of Bihar.

In 1960 Mr Manjhi's wife, Falguni Devi, was injured and needed immediate medical attention but she died while on a 43-mile road journey to the nearest hospital.

Moved by her death, Mr Manjhi spent the next 22 years constructing a tunnel through the Gelhour mountain, which reduced the length of the journey to the nearest town, Wazirganj, to just nine miles. He did so by chipping away at the rock using only hand tools. By the time it was completed in 1982, the tunnel measured 360ft, was 30ft high and 25ft wide.

Nicknamed "Mountain Man" for his heroic efforts, his story inspired a Bollywood film, Manjhi: The Mountain Man, which was based on his life. He was also feted by local politicians who built a hospital in his name. Mr Manjhi died, aged 80, in 2012 after being admitted to a hospital in Delhi. He was given a state funeral by the Government of Biha.

- Independent

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