A newly formed road is always a precursor of change. Whether that change is beneficial or harmful is a matter worth studying. Often, it’s a trade-off between necessity and disruption. The pointReturn site is about 2200 feet away from a public road and I have just formed a private road on fields through which I had bought access rights. It’s time to do an environmental audit on this step.
The road is 15′ wide and so the new road sits on 0.70 acres of agricultural land. But food or crops were not grown on all of this. On 0.33 acres a wide path existed on which tractors, motorcycles and bullock carts plied. An additional 0.05 cents was part of a low lying area through which flood waters were led to a storm drain. Here I have formed a causeway. On 0.07 cents no crops were being grown as it ran through a shaded grove with little sunlight coming through. So that is a total of 0.45 acres that I was not disrupting. On the remaining 0.25 acres however agriculture will give way to traffic. But we will revisit this math at the end.
Agriculture around here is not intensive. There is one crop of rice, one of peanut and then an odd lentil, now and then. The soil is fertile and water is not scarce. The problem is lack of people to do the hard work. Changing economy has made rural labour flock to developing urban nodes for livelihoods. Well formed fields with bunds are visible everywhere – it’s just that they are rarely worked. My idea was to form a road that would not be flooded when the fields are irrigated. That meant raising the height to between one foot and two.
A sign that the area once throbbed with agricultural activity, is the number of dug out wells dotting the landscape. These are between 20 and 50 feet in diameter and 30 to 60 feet in depth. The soil is red, rich and soft for about 6′, then it gets lateritic and after 23′ or so, it’s rocky. Wells are dug using back-hoes, explosives and people gathering the overburden and lifting it to the surface. A small oil engine is set up to run a hoist made of a boom and stay wires. As explosives loosen the rocky layers, a team of guys gather the rubble and fill a large bucket made of tyre carcases riveted together and the engine lifts the lot. The burden is piled alongside the well mouth.
This can be a considerable volume and occupies a lot of space. Some heaps are over 12′, tiny hillocks really, formed as long ago as 15 years. These mounds just sit there on good land. When the villagers came to hear of my road they came with invitations to clear their piles and use them for my raod. That suited me just fine- I’d pay for only carting away and they’d free their land. I thought two mounds would serve my needs- I ended up clearing four!