This man from Bihar dedicated 30 years of his life to building a three-kilometre-long canal in a village near Gaya to solve its drought issues. By Tanvi Jain

Meet Laungi Bhuiyan, a Bihar-based man who has single-handedly carved out a three-kilometre-long canal in a time span of 30 yearsin order to irrigate parched fields of his Kothilwa village in Lahthua area of Gaya. “It took me 30 years to dig this canal, which takes the water to a pond in the village. For the last 30 years, I would go to the nearby jungle to tend my cattle and dig out the canal. No one joined me in this endeavour. Villagers are going to cities to earn a livelihood but I decided to stay back,” he told ANI. 

The Kothilwa village, which is marked as a Maoist refuge, lies amid dense forests and mountains, at a distance of at least 80 kilometres from Gaya. The youth of this drought-hit village where agriculture is the only job prospect, often migrate to big cities in search of more opportunities, thereby, leaving mostly women and children behind. 

Pained at this sight, Bhuiyan instead of getting tempted by the city life and leaving like others, decided to stay back and work on this canal. The main purpose behind building it was to stop the rainwater falling from the mountains to flow into the river so that the villagers can retain it and hence use it for irrigation and other agricultural activities — farming and animal husbandry being the two major sources of income for the people of Gaya. 

Bhuiyan, who was earlier called mad by the villagers for taking upon this project is now being compared to the famous ‘Mountain Man’ Dashrath Manjhi, a labourer from Gehlaur village near Gaya, who had carved out a path through the mountains in a time frame of 22 years, after losing his wife to that very mountain. His life journey was later presented by actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui in a 2015 Bollywood film, Manjhi – The Mountain Man. 

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