Faulty Electricity Bills Loot the Poor

The Rajiv Gandhi Rural Electrification Scheme is an undertaking to gigantic proportions with the aim to provide electricity to 118,000 villages by 2009. Its initial project cost was Rs.1.6 Trillion. The residents of Batiyagarh Village, Madhya Pradesh were promised free electricity connections under this scheme that specifically targets those who live below the poverty line. While they now have electricity, they face a new issue of corruption. VV-PACS Correspondent Arti Valmiki reports from Damoh District Madhya Pradesh. Since the electricity connections and the meters that accompany them were set up 2 years ago, the 1,268 people living below the poverty line have been paying exorbitant bills. In most cases the amount is made up on the whim of officials. Most can't remember the last time their electricity meters were opened to be take readings. "We switch off the lights we don't need and we try to use the electricity wisely. We still get bills that reach Rs.500", says one disgruntled resident. In other news, the government of Madhya Pradesh waived off electricity bills for people living below the poverty line. Was it a step to get more votes? Was it out of genuine concern? Either way, the residents are demanding that action be taken to stop getting fabricated bills. Call to Action: Please call Mr RK Sahai, the Electricity Department Officer on 09425613810 and ask him to resolve the issue. About the Partnership: The Poorest Areas Civil Society (PACS) Programme and Video Volunteers have come together to create the Community Correspondents Network. The videos generated by the network will be able to highlight voices from the margins, providing skills to social communicators to provide advocacy tools to community based organizations.
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