Ruining a tapestry is easy. You take a thread, just one, keep pulling at it and within minutes the whole of it will fall apart.
The situation with the electrification drive of our country is no different. In the past few days, we have seen desperate attempts to destroy the work and devalue the efforts of the Modi led NDA government made in the direction of electrifying rural India.
However, it is often forgotten that with every finger raised, the person raising it, loses credibility. Let’s not talk in vague terms anymore.
As on August 27, 2016, nearly 11,000 (10,097 to be exact) villages out of the 18,452 un-electrified villages in India stand electrified. All these 11,000 odd villages are spread across many states in the country.
However, some state governments like UP are suddenly seen trying to raise questions and puncture holes in the Centre’s attempt to route electricity to each and every village of India.
Raising questions is a must, especially in a party system like the one that runs in our country. The checks and balances are maintained through this constant cross questioning, which are also an attempt to keep the opposition at their toes with the intention of a country’s development. However, as these doubts are surfacing just months ahead of the state assembly elections, the motive also is well understood.
The problem arises when these questions are used as a tool to pursue political agendas. The questions like the ones raised by the state government of Uttar Pradesh especially confusions over electricity not being there in electrified villages (also in case of electrification of the Nagla Fatela village) are factually paralysed and the same has been substantiated through various media reports over the past few days.
Clearly, the state government seems to have forgotten their very own significant role in this drive and is seen pushing a false blame for political gains.
Nagla Fatela is just one village and out of the 1,529 un-electrified villages in Uttar Pradesh a year back, presently 1,436 villages already stand electrified, leaving only 83 villages as un-electrified in the state. Let us for a while shift our focus from Nagla Fatela as was projected by the state and talk about the soul of this project, the people.
We are talking about families who don’t understand these political blame-games and the basic concept of electricity. We are talking about families situated so deep within the folds of our country that they have never experienced the modernity of modern India.
The last two years have definitely achieved tangible benchmarks but what’s even more overwhelming is the non-tangible emotional response that the people have shown towards this electricity drive.
Under the Samajwadi Party, as Uttar Pradesh state authorities and political leaders are busy highlighting the drawbacks of this national village electrification campaign, we are very conveniently neglecting all those households where the same campaign has been a success.
Presently, hundreds of villages in Uttar Pradesh are rejoicing while those in urban areas are requesting the state government of continuous and steady supply of power and on reducing the outages. As distribution of power is the responsibility of the state government, the government of Uttar Pradesh has little choice but to purchase electricity to supply to its people. This is where the onus lies on the state government and the latter cannot run from its responsibility.
Let us now give you some first-hand experiences of such real life cases in rural India.
The Centre’s Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) scheme to electrify every village in India has made 59 year old Javed (name changed on request) and his family, staying in an electrified village of UP, a happy one. A BPL family, Javed lives with his wife, two sons and a daughter. A daily wages worker, Javed and his wife, when asked about electricity connection, expressed happiness as their home has got electricity after many years of independence.
Javed’s family had never used electricity and a majority part of his life has been spent in darkness. Earlier they used to lit kerosene lamps for light in the house but were facing difficulties in getting kerosene due to its high cost. It was difficult to bear heat in summer due to lack of fans. Now they are happy to get electricity connection in their house, as they can do their daily household chores. They happily boast of a fan now and feel the relief from summer heat. Now they can even work at night and can get extra time to perform and improve their standard of living.
Women in villages are the happiest. Another resident of an electrified village, Kamla is happy to cook food under a bulb. Kamla’s husbank Iswar says he will soon purchase a table fan out of his next month’s savings. Kamla’s 8 year son is happy to study under the light of the bulb in his house and has to no longer depend on a lamp or worry about not having enough kerosene to light the lamp.
As per another report from the field through the field engineers of Rural Electrification Corporation, Shadaab Ali posted in Mainpuri district, it was found that the contractor had demanded Rs. 500 from each BPL consumer for releasing connections in Bahramau village.
However, since the villagers were aware that the connections are released free of cost to below poverty line consumers under Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana, they complained to the GVA, who informed the project office and the DISCOM officials. This led to the contractor returning the money to the villagers. The villagers are happy at the prompt action of the officials and the receipt of their money back.
Then in another village of UP, field engineer or as they are called the Grameen Vidyut Abhiyantas, GVA who visited the village found that the villagers’ hope of seeing electricity in their lifetimes had nearly died out.
A small village has been without access to electricity over the entire lifetimes of its residents. Merely five months ago, the village got access to electricity. The villagers’ joy shows in their beaming smiles, as they now live better lives and aspire for better standards of living with access to electricity.
Currently, Writing a Book for Penguin India Titled Greased Pole:How Politics and Lobbying Stifled India’s Energy Dreams. The author can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org (9810661825)