While the country celebrated Diwali with crackers and lights this October, Gangadhara Tilak Katnam, the owner of a unique pothole ambulance, spent the night tending to Hyderabad's damaged roads. Tilak, a South Central Railway engineer, worked as a consultant at a software firm after retirement.
It was during his job with the software firm that Tilak's idea for his future initiative called 'Shramadaan' or 'offering physical help' took root. According to a report by The News Minute,
"I was driving to my first day of office when I ended up splashing dirty mud water on schoolgoing children after my car fell into a pothole on the road. Then a few more accidents followed at various places."
Since 2010, Tilak has made the potholes destroying Hyderabad's roads his business, and he has so far filled as many as 1,302. His car is equipped with empty gunny bags, in which he collects tar lumps from footpaths to fill potholes with. While working with the software firm, Tilak often skipped lunch to fill the city's potholes.
In an interview with The Times of India, Tilak said,
"I celebrated Diwali by filling a pothole. Initially I used to pick up gravel from the roadside when a new road was being laid. Subsequently, I was not able to find any. I then requested contractors to at least sell me some gravel."
Despite his son speaking with the commissioner of the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation and his assurance that the authorities would make amends, Tilak refused to relax and went on to fix any pothole he could find. Not accepting any funds or donations for his work, Tilak is now aptly called the road doctor.
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