Jharkhand’s villages are still awaiting power supply.
The irony of a village in Jharkhand which does not receive electricity can be found in crunching the numbers. Jharkhand is one of the highest producers of coal in the country. Third highest in the country and ‘endowed with 72.2 billion tonnes of coal’ as declared in Jharkhand State Mineral Development Corporation Ltd website. Touch down at Swami Vivekanand Airport, in the capital city of Ranchi and hoarding tells that you are about to enter ‘The Coal Capital’ of the country. The coal that is mined from the grounds goes to feed the thermal power plants which provide electricity to meet more than half of India’s enormous power requirements.
Mining has displaced lakhs of communities in Jharkhand, mostly tribal and other marginalized people. The water, air and environment have been degraded to a level where it is not possible to be consumed by the living. Millions of lives and livelihoods have been lost. Widespread dissatisfaction and disillusion with the state took root and turned into violent civil strife. Communities are caught in the middle of a bloody crossfire between the state and the rebel militia.
The people got nothing of what they asked for and everything that they didn’t ask for. They had asked for electricity. It could be argued that over 1/3rd of rural India does not receive electricity. But the numbers will show you that the people of Jharkhand have already paid the price.
The Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojna (RGGV)
In 2005, to meet the requirements of current coalition government’s common minimum programme, the government introduced the RGGV scheme in its five year plans. The scheme aimed to accelerate the pace of electrification of Rural India. 49, 383 villages were identified but implementation has been slow and marred by difficulties from inefficiency to corruption. The time span of the scheme has been extended by another 5 years.
The Community Correspondent Says
“Without electricity, it feels like you are stuck in time,” says Community Correspondent Rejan Guria. He has grown up in a region in Khunti District, Jharkhand that has seen electricity only in the past decade. Other surrounding regions in the district, he says have yet to catch up.
“Once in a while there is some activity. The authorities come in with poles and there is excitement in the village. You keep waiting for them to lay the cable but it never happens. Soon enough the children are using the poles for their games. Such a situation has happened twice in the region.”
“Ours is an agricultural region. We are still forced to use traditional methods and animals for farming. Even if we install motors, there is no power to run them and we have install a generator and then buy fuel for the generator. Before you know it, you’re making a loss because you tried to modernize.”
“The main worry of the people is the education of the children. They are forced to use kerosene lamps.”
Asks Rejan, “How will our children study and make progress? How will they learn about and see the world if they are forced to live in the darkness?”
Ever heard of using loudspeakers to teach an entire village's kids?
It is estimated that the area of Pelma, Chhattisgarh holds about 40 million tonnes of coal that the corporates are eyeing.