Aranghata (Nadia): An unusual daily cleanliness habit being maintained by a retired head master for over two decades has made him a role model of sort in Nadia’s Aranghata.
At 82, Rajkumar Pal, a resident of Anandanagar village spends over four hours every day to clean and wash the 185 meter long concrete bridge and the road over the river Churni, which was constructed following his rigorous initiatives by state government on a central fund allotted by former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on his request in 1984 a few months before she was shot dead.
Since it was inaugurated in 1995, Pal has been religiously cleaning this arterial bridge regularly in bare hand or sometimes with a piece of cloth. He cleans the dust, removes the darts and stains from the bridge, its guard wall and the railing using water almost as a daily routine. Sometimes his son helps him carrying water.
He never uses a broom as the bridge is named as “Jugal Kishore Setu”, a name of Lord Sri Krishna. Pal thinks that the job he offers is a service to the ‘God’.
“As you perform the puja everyday at home before the God, I do it on the bridge in the name of Lord Srikrishna. I do this as a service to him for sake of awareness among people”, Pal said.
“For this service my hands are enough. The bridge is named after Sri Krishna. So how can I broom a place where I feel his existence?”, Pal added.
Pal woke up early in the morning and leaves home for his mission after a bath at 9am.
“He starts cleaning works in fresh attire in the morning as one does while offering puja. He begins cleaning at about 9am which continues for four hours. I have been watching him doing this for past 23 years. I have never seen any exception in his routine. He takes care of the bridge as one loves his dear ones. In fact, this bridge would not have been constructed without his initiative”, said Chayarani Das, a local resident.
Local sources said, it was during early 80s Pal took a battle against administration after repeated appeals to construct a bridge over Churni were turned down by the state and district administration.
Pal who was attached to Ghoraghata Primary School said, “As a head master I used to feel sorry when found a lot of students often abstained school unless their parents find time to accompany them while crossing the river on boat. The number attendance used to be very poor. As the boat was only mode to cross the river, normal life often suffered. So I appealed chief minister Jyoti Basu, but he turned down my appeal for lack of fund. I then appealed Prime Minister Indira Gandhi for fund. After a serious of communication, she allotted a fund of Rs.2.34crore to state government in 1984 for the bridge, which, however, lately constructed by Macintosh Burn Limited in 1995”.
“It was a great success of my labour, despite many people discouraged me in my endeavor. The endeavor developed a bond with the bridge from the beginning. It eventually changed the lifeline of the people here. Eventually I took it as a mission to ensure its care”, Pal added.
Pal did not give up when some local farmers threatened him as he protesting dying of jute on the guard wall of the bridge.
“Many people came up then in my support as they also realized the need to keep the bridge safe and clean”, he sounds elated. However, he laments that many outsiders often dart it in during night. “I would be happy if the state government made some lighting arrangements on the bridge”, he said.
Local people a few years ago inserted a stone to the bridge wall recognizing his contribution. Pradip Biswas, a villager said, “Sir is a role model to us. I have never heard such dedication for cleanliness”.
An officer of PWD said, “He is doing an impeccable job. With his support it has become easier for us to keep the bridge clean”