Shekhawati spirit on villagers’ track
Small halt station of Balwantpura-Chailasi elebrates the entrepreneurial spirit of Shekhawati — the land of Mittals, Birlas, Goenkas and Ruias.
A rare success story of community participation, this halt station celebrates the entrepreneurial spirit of Shekhawati — the land of Mittals, Birlas, Goenkas and Ruias.
Villagers of this nondescript hamlet had been voicing the need for a halt station since 1996. They did every possible thing to move the government — right from approaching local MP to the headquarter of railways, and also writing to railway minister. But it all fell on deaf ears.
Desperation for a halt station brought villagers of five panchayats together. They pooled in Rs 15 lakh and constructed halt station on their own. But constructing a halt station alone was not going to solve their problems. Stoppage of trains too was crucial. “Station without train-stoppage is just like a cart without a horse. Railways was not willing to stop trains and deploy staff at this small hamlet. We kept up the pressure, met every single authority requesting for a 2-minute stoppage of shuttle trains,” says Ramsukh Sharma, who was part of that delegation.
After a long drawn battle, in 2006, villagers finally succeeded in persuading railways to stop trains at the station. However, the authorities told villagers to manage and maintain the halt station with their own resources. “Railways don’t spend on any thing except the track maintenance. The management of the station is with villagers. Such initiatives can promote public partnership and help government cut expenditure and tame unsustainable deficits,” says northwestern railways DGM (general) and chief public relation officer Lalit Bohra.
At present, eight local trains stop at this station. But railways don’t have any ticket counter here. However, it does have other facilities like any other small station — drinking water, benches, toilets, etc. “Tickets are being sold by moving guards of trains. Now, railways are planning to appoint ticketing agent for this station,” Mr Bohra said.
This station is a picture of true Bharat. It has changed lives of many like 25-year old Rajendra Chaudhary. He had to walk 20 km every day to Nawalgarh to catch a train to Jaipur where he works in an electronic shop. Now he catches train from his own village reducing the travelling time. Like him, a person from every household is now working in Jaipur bringing back prosperity to the village.
The station is a boon for cancer patient Gamini Devi who too catches train from here to visit her doctor in Jaipur. “We want to set up an example for people who waste their time and energy cursing the government. We have the power. Do things on your own and let the government think that life can be better without them,” says 65-year-old Shyam Jangid who oversees the station management.