As India celebrates its high share in global electricity production, it is important to remember that 51% rural households in its most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, still have no electricity connection.
India is now the world’s third-largest producer of electricity, and the leap in production over the last 7-8 years has been an astounding 34%.
Meanwhile, a village along the Indo-Nepal border, with a population of at least 7000 people, has had no electricity in at least 50% of its households for years, and little hope in sight. Community Correspondent Bramhjeet Yadav first reported on the situation in the village in June 2017 and has been persistently following the case up with officials since.
Baytal village in Uttar Pradesh’s Siddharthnagar district has all the signs of an electrified village– the transformers, the poles, the wires, the meters are all there. But with no actual electricity connection or supply, the infrastructure means little to the residents of the village. Unfortunately, Baytal is not an anomaly; 51.8% of UP’s rural households still have no electricity.
The village has had electricity infrastructure since the beginning of 2017, but half the homes have never had electricity connection, explains Ranjana Gautam, a local resident. When Brahmjeet takes her consent to air the video on public platforms, she doesn’t hesitate even for a minute, and insists that the government should be the first to see the video and respond to the problem.
Ranjana and her community have approached the authorities as well, starting with the Village Council Head. “There are at least 400 homes yet to be electrified”, says Md. Salim, the Head, adding that the Village Council has also been trying to get the work completed but the Electricity Department is paying little heed.
Studies have shown that homes with electricity have higher literacy rates and higher enrolment rates, especially for girls, and result in better grades as well. Community Correspondent Shambhulal saw this change at the ground level when his video from Rajasthan brought electricity to families with school-going girls. Not only do children have trouble studying in the dark without electricity, but girls are often withdrawn from school to lend a hand in extra household chores that the lack of electricity entails.
Like Shambhulal, Brahmjeet also hopes to resolve the problem for the residents of Baytal. He has contacted the Junior Engineer at the district Electricity Department, who said that the Department had no idea that the homes have not been getting electricity. According to the Junior Engineer, the private contractor to whom the contract for Baytal was given, seems to have falsely reported that all the households had been electrified.The Electricity Department has promised to look into the matter and Bramhjeet, along with some of the village residents, is following the case up, hoping for an early resolution.
Video by Community Correspondent Bramhjeet Yadav
Article by Alankrita Anand, a member of the VV Editorial Team