A Village in Chandauli, UP remains Shrouded In Darkness Even 76 years After Nation Got Its Independence
The 300 inhabitants of Itawa village in Chandauli district are still running from pillar to post to get their village electrified. The lack of electricity in the village contradicts the Union government's claim about India's every village having access to electricity.
Dewesh Pandey 22 Aug 2023 12:45 PM GMT
Itawa, Chandauli (Uttar Pradesh)
Satish Ray, a 16-year-old student of class 10, finds time to study after school only after he has helped his farmer father in the fields. But, by then, his home is in darkness and there is no light that he can switch on to sit down at his books.
“I use a solar light to study at night but it barely lasts an hour. If I cannot get proper lighting at home, I fear I will not be able to study any longer,” Ray, from Itawa village in Chandauli district, Uttar Pradesh, told Gaon Connection. “I buy batteries for my lamp and each battery lasts only for one night. They cost Rs 20 each,” the young student said.
There are around 50 students in the village who are facing the same problem that Ray does. Even 76 years after Independence, this village still waits to be electrified.
Itawa has a population of about 300 residents and is 340 kilometres away from the state capital Lucknow. Most of those who live here belong to backward castes, the majority of whom are from the Rajbhar community.
“It is like the Poll Promises,” shrugged Mangri Devi, a 60-year-old. “Candidates make a big show of listening to our woes in order to get our votes, and then forget all about us,” she told Gaon Connection.
“None of the politicians has done anything so far. It feels like we are living in adi-maanav kaal (primitive times). The only light we get is daylight,” Devi said.
“I have spent all my life lighting a diya [earthen lamp] or a dibri [oil wick] after sunset. I just hope that the younger generation will see electricity in their lifetime,” she added, without much hope.
It is just not about darkness at sunset. During the day, lack of electricity affects the farmers, who form the bulk of the population in the village. They are unable to use tubewells for irrigating their crops especially when the rainfall is erratic.
Ramu Rajbhar, who owns two bighas [half an hectare] of land is one of the farmers who is frustrated.
“No farmer in the village is able to harvest more than a crop in a year. It adversely affects our livelihood. We cannot depend on rainfall entirely to cultivate crops,” he said.
“Even to get our grains milled, we have to visit the neighbouring villages where there is electricity to run their mills,” he said.
When Gaon Connection visited Itawa, street lights were found to be equipped with solar panels but they were dysfunctional. "These were installed in 2017 but they have not been working a year after they were installed," Devi said.
Migrating from darkness
The villagers also complained about the lack of healthcare facilities in the village.
“We have to go to Chandauli which is about 30 kilometres away for medical treatment. No health centre can function in a village that has no electricity. Even charging our mobile phones demands a visit to the adjacent village,” Siddharth Kumar Maurya, the village head told Gaon Connection.
“No wonder many families are migrating to other villages and cities. The farm labourers and farmers have switched to working as daily wage construction workers. At night, in the monsoon season, snakes often bite people due to lack of lighting facilities. My village is gradually losing its people,” Maurya listed the woes he and his fellow villagers had to deal with.
According to the village head, a number of applications and appeals have been presented to the executive engineer of Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation Limited in Chandauli.
“We have written to officials, political leaders and also lodged a complaint on the Chief Minister’s portal but nothing has happened so far,” he added.
It is interesting to note that on April 29, 2023, Prime Minister Narendra Modi posted on Twitter [now X] that every village in India has been connected with power supply.
“28th April 2018 will be remembered as a historic day in the development journey of India. Yesterday, we fulfilled a commitment due to which the lives of several Indians will be transformed forever! I am delighted that every single village of India now has access to electricity,” the Prime Minister posted.
The official word
When Gaon Connection approached Sanjay Kumar, the sub-divisional officer of Sakaldiha under which Itawa comes, he said that the village shall soon have power supply.
“If the villagers want power supply instantly, they will have to apply for it officially and submit the amount needed for deposit during the application process. If the distance of the village is more than 40 metres from the existing power lines, then the village will be selected for a government scheme called Saubhagya and power supply will be provided,” Kumar told Gaon Connection.