Belgaum showed the way of voluntary subscriptions of road repairs in 1848

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The example of Belgaum thus followed in several towns and villages of the district. “ says the Thornton’s Gazetteer, 66.

In 1848 the leading men of Belgaum (now renamed as Belagavi) formed a committee and Roads, in four months by voluntary subscriptions repaired all the roads, and lanes of the town, extending to a length of between nine and ten miles. In reward for their public spirit Government granted the people of Belgaum a sum of £600 (Rs. 6000) to improve the town. Still much remained to be done in widening the old roads and in making new roads until the municipality was established in 1852.

In 1853-54, £59(Rs.590) and during the next four years £40 to £50 (Rs. 400-500) were spent. In 1864-65 £242 (Rs. 2420) were, spent, and from 1865 to 1880, £253 (Rs. 2530) have been yearly spent on roads. There are at present fifty-seven sections of roads known by the names of the streets through which they pass. Most of these sections have been metaled within the last eight or ten years and a few of crumbled trap or murum are being gradually metalled. Every day all the municipal roads are cleaned by sweepers.

The sweepings consisting of grass rubbish dry leaves and decayed bones are gathered in dustbins in different parts of the town, removed in carts, and thrown into a pit to the south of the town. The sweepings were at first used to fill old quarry holes and the low lying spaces in and near the town. When rotten and decayed the sweepings are sold as manure. The leading streets are lighted with kerosene lamps, of which severity-one are kept alight at a yearly cost of £165 (Es. 1554). During the dry weather, nine carts water the roads at a yearly cost of £65 (Rs. 650). The town is surrounded by a hedge chiefly of karvi or milk bush with openings for the roads. These openings are called gates or veses, and some of the roads and are said to have formerly been provided with gateways and gates which were closed at night. The chief gates are! The Patil, the Bogar and the Gondhalivada in the west; the Kangrali & Kakti.

The Bogarves was the largest gate, as Oaten, the term is still applied to any unusually broad passage. The other gates have been opened as the town limits extended. Near the Kotval chavdi in Sherkhanvada are traces of a gate which must have led to the fort. At each of the present gates is a police post a small pretty building and a municipal toll bar. Besides the gates, several small openings lead out of the town, where toll men are stationed.

Source: Gazetteer of Bombay Presidency 1884.

Most of the things mentioned in 1884 still are true even currently. If the people come together again and work together we could make a difference again.

6 thoughts on “Belgaum showed the way of voluntary subscriptions of road repairs in 1848”

  1. if i am not mistaken one such naka is there in risaldar galli in front of Khade bazaar police station . Foundation of the naka still present a rubber tree planted in the middle during the opening of the police station by Shri Gundu roa the then chief minister of karnataka

  2. This is a lovely example of public helping themselves. But the down line says the voluntary subscriptions were before muncipality was formed. Today we have the muncipality strong. Today we can only assist the muncipality or enforce over the muncipality to work better.
    Belgaum next could be a platform or a third party inspection body. Yet largely so, we the public of Belgaum should parallely improve to contribute to little space around us. with the larger support from Muncipality / Belgaum next .

  3. (1). Times have changed. Today's people pay huge taxes in the form of direct and indirect taxes to the government – Income tax, commercial tax, excise tax, professional tax, tax on employment, education cess, beggers' cess, service tax, luxury tax, entertainment tax. Though voluntary contribution of labour is most welcome, the people have every right to not only to demand but pressure the government repair roads and maintain them properly. In fact, maintenance of roads for three years with the date of completion of construction is an inherent element in the tender/contract. Thus, the cost of maintenance is already involved in the contract. IRONICALLYy, voluntary subscription these days would only encourage swindling of taxes already paid. Speaking of voluntary under such circumstances is easy escape route from our failures to make the government funtion responsibly and use taxes in an efficient and judicious manner and for the purpose it is paid. __Biddu

  4. (2). What can be done is this: Form citizen's committee to play the role of watch dog on every development/repair works and see that funds are properly spent and works properly and fully implemented. This will be more than enough. But, who has the time to do all this, particularly at a time when the a voter is ready to become a saleable commodity by selling his or her vote for just Rs.50 or Rs.100, while the others in the name of caste and religion? Earlier, it was "Yatha Raja Tatha Praja". Today, it is vice-versa? _____Biddu.

  5. Interesting Documentary !!! I was myself a resident of Belgavi(Belgaum) from my childhood days to my graduation in Lingaraj College Between the Year 1942 to 1957. I have thus, witnessed Ancient Belgavi(Belgaum) to the fullest. And those memories are still fresh in my mind !!!!!!. Jan M. Shaikh.( Past resident)


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