September 22, 2020

Power blues beset many in ‘fully electrified’ Bihar villages

PATNA: Every afternoon, Asharfi Raut hands his mobile phone and those of two family members along with Rs 15 to someone in the village who visits a nearby marketplace to get the phones’ batteries charged. “The man who gets it done for me asks for nothing in return,” says a smiling 75-year-old Raut, resident of Musahar Toli in Rasulpur panchayat of Bihar’s Saran district. It is a daily ritual for nearly 250 families living in the village. They do not mind paying Rs 5 for a single charging of mobile phone.

While they manage to get their phone batteries charged, fans, electric light and television are luxuries for these people as their village, like thousand others across Bihar, is yet to be electrified. Electrification work in Musahar Toli was to be completed last year, but the authorities have just erected the poles so far. “There is no urgency shown by the officials to electrify the village.

After several reminders, they have finally added wires on the electric poles, but we do not know when our homes will get electricity,” said Rasulpur mukhia (elected village headman) Arvind Kumar Singh.

Even though Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar announced earlier this month that all 39,073 villages and 1,06,249 tolas (sub-units in villages) in the state had been electrified, the ground reality is a far cry from the claims. Kumar’s announcement came a week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi claimed that electrification of the entire country was complete after electricity reached Leisang village in Manipur.

Nitish, who had launched the ‘Har Ghar Bijli Lagatar’ scheme on November 15, 2016, said ‘lalten’ (lantern) and ‘dhibri’ (oil lamp) would cease to exist in Bihar soon. The statement was a veiled jibe at the RJD, the main Opposition party whose election symbol is lantern. But hundreds of villages in the state are still dependent on lanterns.Even in many electrified villages, more than half the households are yet to be electrified.

Courtesy: The New Indian Express

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