43-year-old Sunita Kasera is the only female member of the 150 member strong Karauli Press Union in Rajasthan. Sunita feels that Karauli is a backward district that offers little opportunity to local residents. Although Sunita completed her graduation from Jaipur University, after marriage, her in-laws insisted she stay at home. In her spare time, Sunita joined an NGO, Sathya Naval…
In May 2012, Community Correspondent Sunita Kasera started waging a war against Karauli Municipality to fix National Highway 11 that cuts through the city. As a result of the efforts, the highway has now been repaired and the spate of pointless accidents has come to an end.
“The majority of the local population in Karauli either walks, cycles or drives a two-wheeler caught between the speeding trucks and tricky road, these people are the most vulnerable”, says Sunita.
“The road not only connects one end of Karauli to the other but is also the highway in and out of the town. It is one of the busiest roads in the region and one, which nobody can avoid. You have to use the road to go to the market, to take your children to school and so on”, she continues.
Most people had lost track of the number of accidents that took place there each month. Sunita pins them down to around 20 a month.
“It was evident that something had to be done to pressurise the people in the Municipality to repair the road”, says Sunita.
And that’s just what the press community of Karauli did. As Sunita made her video and started making calls for the construction of the road, other journalists in newspapers printed multiple reports about the killer road.
Eventually the authorities had no choice but to send in rollers to start work on the road. National Highway 11 is now wider on both sides and can therefore accommodate more traffic.
In addition, a smaller bypass road has been constructed which facilitates the diversion of some vehicles creating 2 roads with reduced traffic. The entire process took place in about 6 months.
“People in the government are usually aware of problems that they need to fix. Unfortunately though, they only take action when they are pressurised. Ever since the road has been widened the number of accidents has come down to almost zero”, says Sunita.
Another victory for community journalism…