Though the government is making elaborate arrangements to commemorate 75 years of independence, a village in UP’s Etah district still remains without power. Three hundred km away from Delhi, residents of Nagla Dheepa, which falls under the gram panchayat of Gadhi Roshan, will be celebrating ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’ in darkness.
Village resident Soni Singh said, “The last Prime Minister I saw unfurling the tricolour at Red Fort on TV was Rajiv Gandhi. Later, I got married and shifted here. I have been living here for over 30 years. As there’s no electricity, I never got a chance to see another ceremony on the small screen.”
The village, of about 700 people, has close to 100 houses without an electric bulb. Residents say they travel 2 km to reach the town area just to charge their mobile phones. Students are unable to attend online classes and use candles to study. Women have to prepare dinner before sunset. “Since the last several decades, we have been trying to reach public representatives and local authorities for power supply. Years have passed on and governments have changed but we have remained in this darkness. We want PM Modi to take cognisance of our plight,” said 75- year-old village resident Dayashanker Singh.
Sub-divisional officer of the electricity department, Roshan Kumar, said, “A proposal for the electrification of Nagla Dheepa has been prepared. We have sent it to the higher authorities.” Meanwhile, the district magistrate of Etah, Ankit Kumar Agrawal, said, “I am not aware of the village with no power supply. So far, no one from Nagla Dheepa has raised a problem with me. I will look into the matter. Time-bound action will be taken to end the suffering of villagers.”
Rajeev Singh, husband of gram pradhan Neeraj (who uses her first name only), is not convinced. He said, “I have personally requested power department officials and local authorities to supply electricity to the village. They have been giving assurances but so far no action has been taken. Unfortunately, villagers have adjusted to living in the darkness. Now they do not even bother to pursue the matter.” Most families depend on farming. In the past five years, 50 people have migrated from the village due to its poor condition.
In his independence day address to the nation in 2015, PM Modi noted that 18,500 villages in India did not have electricity. He promised to change that “within the next 1,000 days”. In September 2017, the Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana (or SAUBHAGYA) was launched, envisaging last-mile connectivity and total electrification of the country by March 2019. In 987 days — short of the promised 1,000 — on April 28, 2018, it was declared that the promise had been “fulfilled”.
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