By Sukhwinder Singh | Haryana
In May this year, 24-year-old Ram Lal scaled the world’s highest peak — Mount Everest. Today, the young man from Tohana town in Fatehabad district pushes a vegetable cart through the streets to take care of his bed-ridden father and fend for the family.
Ram is yet to receive the cash award of Rs 5 lakh that Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda announced soon after he hoisted the tricolour at Everest. Another Everest climber, Mamta Sodha, was recently appointed deputy SP and awarded Rs 21 lakh.
The eldest of three siblings and trained in mountaineering by Vinay Verma, a Tohana resident, Ram started selling fruits and vegetables to make ends meet and pay for the treatment of his father who is immobilized due to spinal injuries. “I received financial support from local NGOs and a few individuals. Apart from that, I had availed of a loan to manage my household expenses and for my father’s treatment. I am selling vegetables on this cart to feed my family and repay the loan,” Ram said.
Verma too has offered to help him out. The mountaineer said penury forced him to knock at the doors of Haryana minister Paramvir Singh and Sirsa MP Ashok Tanwar for help, but to no avail. “I am not asking for anything extra. I just want to be treated like other mountaineers who had successfully climbed Mount Everest earlier,” Ram said.Haryana director general of sports and youth affairs, Sudhir Rajpal, said verification process for disbursal of cash award to Ram Lal is underway. “So far as recommendation for employment is concerned, it is for medal winners in competitive sports. We will ask Fatehabad’s district sports officer to speak to Ram,” Rajpal said.
According to Verma, they would not have approached the state government to help Ram had it not feted Mamta. “Not just Mamta, the state government has also honoured another couple from Haryana for having climbed the peak. Ram too should get his due,” he said.