For the last two decades, women from neighbouring villages had been refusing to marry into Rajghat, a village located 5 km from Dhaulpur town in Rajasthan. Lacking even basic facilities – like electricity, clean water, toilets, schools, no family was willing to send their daughters to the village, earning it the title of the ‘village of bachelors’.
That finally changed last year, when 23-year-old Pawan married a girl from a neighbouring village in Madhya Pradesh, finally bringing a bride into the village after 22 years, on the back of sustained efforts of a few Dholpur residents and media coverage from organizations like YKA.
In April 2016, receiving information from Ashwani Parashar, an MBBS student from Dholpur who initiated the #SaveRajghat campaign, Youth Ki Awaaz travelled to Rajghat and done a detailed story and video report on the sub-human conditions the villagers were living in. At that time, the village had no pucca road, no access to electricity, no toilet or even a clean source of water.
In absence of a clean water source, the villagers were forced to drink the dirty, river water of the Chambal that was itself fraught with its own risks – of being gobbled up by gharials that lurk in the Chambal waters, or worse still, encountering human corpses that sometimes come floating in by the river bank.
“Who will want to send their daughter to this jungle? When there is no facility in the village, no visible infrastructure, why should anyone? People aren’t mad, no?” a visibly upset Ram Charan, a village resident, had asked us when we had enquired about the lack of enthusiasm from women to marry into the village.
Questioned about the abysmal state of affairs, authorities had said that they couldn’t do much for the village since it lay inside the National Chambal Sanctuary, a 5400 square kilometre tri-state protected area especially earmarked by the government for protection of species like the critically endangered gharial and the Ganges river dolphin.
जहां नदी में तैरते मुर्दे को साइड हटाकर पानी पी लिया जाता है वहां भला कौन शादी करे? #SaveRajghat
Posted by Youth Ki Awaaz Hindi on Monday, 26 June 2017
The story was published on Youth Ki Awaaz and was read and shared widely by thousands of people. Post the publication of the story, using the momentum built by it Parashar filed a petition in the Rajasthan High Court requesting the court to look into the matter.
Taking cognisance of the matter, the Rajasthan High Court issued notices to various authorities in the area.
Villagers say, soon after, droves of officials started visiting the village. Toilets were constructed in the village as part of the Swachh Bharat mission.
On the back of the crowdsourcing campaign run by Parashar, slowly but steadily, cartridge water filters were installed in every home and at the village primary school. A solar based electrification system was established, with each home receiving solar panels and a set of batteries.
With a transformer expected to be installed at the village soon, the villagers will soon be able to access electricity through the power grid. Work for a pucca road has also been initiated, thanks to the sustained effort of the Save Rajghat campaign, led by Parashar.
An Indian citizens’ led Norwegian group has expressed interest in donating money to the village to overhaul the school, and run smart classes.
The children at Rajghat can finally hope of a better life.