As night falls at the Cherpal Ashram, 15 km from the Bijapur district headquarters, the glow of tubelights begins to illuminate the residential quarters of students, and the ground with a volleyball net outside. When 12-year-old Santu Pottam first arrived at the school in April, it was this light that he had to get used to. In his village of Bodla Pusnar, deep inside the forests of Bijapur and in the crossfires of the State-Maoist conflict, there has never been electricity. Yet, in government records, Santu Pottam belongs to a village that has been “electrified”.
In April this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that all villages in India had been electrified, the last being Leisang village in Manipur. This has since become a bedrock of the BJP’s political campaigns, including in Chhattisgarh. On paper, the three districts of Dantewada, Bijapur and Sukma, hit by left-wing extremism, are 100 per cent electrified too. But in at least 80 villages across these districts, The Indian Express found, electricity means a 3-watt solar lantern. Read more
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