Unfixed Light Endanger Lives

In Valmiki Nagar, Haryana, a solar light installed at a dangerous intersection lies broken. In Community Correspondent Amit Kumar’s Haryana village of Valmiki Nagar, the municipal council installed a solar light in a dangerous intersection to improve the lives of this marginalized Dalit community, as part of an empowerment scheme. It was treacherous for villagers to travel through this intersection. “It grows very dark at nights, people passing by get robbed. It is dangerous. It is unsafe for young girls to travel in the night. There is also a danger of theft. That is why officials installed the light,” says Vinod Kumar, village resident. Then the light malfunctioned two years ago, plunging the intersection, once again, into darkness, and exposing villagers to the same dangers they faced before the light’s installation. Their standard of living is currently at a low level. This solar lamp was placed in the village as a result of the community’s complaints to the municipal council, which finally helped the villagers install the light.  “This crossing was quite dark at night, which was problematic for people and accidents happened frequently. This is why we collectively went to the municipal commission and got this light installed with their help,” said Sailaga, a student in the village. Schemes like solar light installation in Dalit communities that have low standards of living, including a lack of electricity, are very important for raising their standard of living, to improve their lives, and, eventually, to empower these communities. After dark, before the solar lights were delivered to villages, life was difficult, as everyday tasks such as cooking, farming, and studying had to be accomplished by using kerosene or paraffin lamps, while intersections remained unlit and became extremely dangerous for villagers. For villages that are attached to on-grid electricity, frequent power cuts and power shortage affect their lives daily. Ankit Agarwal, a student in the village, says, “The light worked in spite of the power cuts. We were able to see clearly in the dark and we could inspect people clearly.” Solar technology is crucial for India’s communities because the electricity not affected by power cuts and shortages that plague the nation, including its biggest cities of Mumbai and Delhi. While the installation of solar lights are an admirable scheme to help improve Dalits’ lives, it is not useful when the lights they are placing in communities do not function properly and there is no maintenance to fix broken lights. People in Amit’s village have complained several times to government authorities in the region about this major safety issue in their community, to no avail. Hopefully, the impact of Amit’s IndiaUnheard video will lead to action from the government to fix the village’s solar light and improve the safety of villagers.

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