Bikaner: Union Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal wanted to make a call — but he had to climb a tree to do so.
The remote Rajasthan village of Dholia presented a bleak picture of Digital India as the Minister of State for Finance discovered he could catch a mobile phone signal only after he had scaled the tree with the help of a ladder.
Meghwal had stopped by at the village near Sri Dungargarh town, 85 km from Bikaner, on Sunday to ask the people about their problems.
When the locals urged the 63-year-old minister to direct the chief medical and health officer (CMHO) to appoint a nurse for the local medical centre, he asked his assistant to connect him to the CMHO.
When he could not get through to the officer, a helpful man brought a ladder and placed it along a Khejdi tree.
“Mantri ji, is par chadiye, tab lagega (Sir, it will work if you climb this),” local BJP leader Surendra Singh, who was present there, quoted the man as saying.
The Minister smiled, climbed up the ladder and the call went through, Singh said.
“They made me climb a tree and I can call only from here,” Meghwal was hearing telling the CMHO. “Appoint a temporary ANM (Auxiliary nurse midwife) here tomorrow.”
The locals clapped appreciatively when the Minister hung up.
Meghwal later said he had visited the village from Bikaner — his constituency — in the general coach of a train to talk to ordinary people.
“I was in the village to speak to the people and address their issues,” the former IAS officer said.
He, however, refused to comment on the poor mobile network in the area.
Local leader Ramgopal Suthar said the area had such poor connectivity that people had to climb up trees or go on rooftops to catch mobile signals.
“The locals told the ministers about problems related to the poor mobile network, fluoride in water and basic amenities. He assured them the problems would be addressed soon,” Suthar said.
Meanwhile, Dholia is to get its nurse.
“The Minister called me yesterday and the necessary action (for hiring an ANM) is being taken,” the CMHO, Dr Devendra, said on Monday.
Meghwal made news last year when he rode a bicycle to Parliament after the Delhi government implemented its odd-even traffic scheme.