A tangled bunch of wires that lead nowhere; a switchboard that hangs disappointedly on a wall as it has no purpose. Many villages in Odisha have seen electrification only to this extent. Abhishek Das in this video tells the story of Litiguda village in Nuapada district.
The well intentioned Odisha government had put in place a scheme to light up the state in 2007. The Biju Gram Jyoti Yojana was meant to reach out to areas where the national Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana couldn’t reach out. With a budget of over 365 crores, BGJY specifically targets families that live below the poverty line. The result? Not very good it seems.
Some time ago the residents of the village were asked to pay Rs 200/- each to a contractor so that the required electricity poles and wires could be brought and put into place. Nearly all families (who live below the poverty line) complied to this request and scraped together the money. They got only as far as installing the poles. The contractor has not returned since with the transformers he had promised.
The village plummets into darkness each evening and not just of the literal kind. Surendra Baithangi, a resident speaks of how the children feel unsafe to play outside without lights. He says:
“We can’t cook inside our houses, our children can’t study. We can’t even watch TV so we’re unaware of so many things.”
This story is only one in among many. As Odisha has economically developed (it is now no longer the poorest but 7th poorest state in India) over the last decade, demands for power supply have also grown in proportion. The infrastructure is in no shape to meet these demands even after borrowing power from other states. In a State that has multimillion investments for industrial projects including power supply, such a poor track record of supplying basic infrastructure does not look good.
Our network of Community Correspondents have recently highlighted the lack of electricity in their villages and blocks as a major concern. As something that can easily be rectified by holding concerned authorities accountable they are putting gears into motion for a small campaign. We’ll keep you updated on that action as it starts but for now you can call the below number and help the residents of Litiguda get electricity.
Call to Action: Please call Mr AK Roy, the Deputy General Manager of the National Thermal Power Corporation on 09437046460 and ask him to complete the electrification process of this area.