Gopeshwar: Residents of Tolma, one of the remotest border villages in Niti valley, on Monday threatened to launch an agitation if the construction of a vital road connecting it with the rest of Chamoli district was not resumed immediately.
Villagers of Tolma met the PWD’s executive engineer here on Monday and handed him a memorandum addressed to Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami, demanding immediate resumption of the construction of the road failing which they would be forced to start an agitation at the district collectorate.
A PWD engineer on condition of anonymity said the construction of the road has been delayed as it is located in a terrain full of hard rocks. However, he said villagers have been assured that a revised estimate of the project will be prepared soon and work would start. Construction of the road to Tolma, populated predominantly by tribals, has been stuck for more than 15 years and residents of the village still have to trudge for several miles on a daily basis to reach the nearest market in Suraithota.
“Absence of a road even 74 years after independence and more than two decades after the creation of a separate Uttarakhand is leading to migration of people from the border village which is populated 100 per cent by tribals,” the memorandum said.
Gradual desertion of the border village by residents is not good from a strategic point of view, it said. Work on the construction of the 4-km road between Tolma and Suraithota on Joshimath-Malari had begun after the project was cleared in 2005 but it was suddenly stopped after the initial digging for a few hundred metres, complained Chaya Devi, a resident of the village. “We are still waiting for the road,” she said. “We are tired of running around the PWD office here with our request but the road is still an elusive dream,” said another resident, Udai Singh, showing a bunch of letters written by the villagers seeking resumption of construction. The village due to its proximity to the Nanda Devi National Park and the Dronagiri mountain is visited by researchers and botanists.