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‘Power-less’ villages deny Modi’s full light

IMPHAL | May 8 : When Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared fully India electrified on April 28 with Leisang in Senapati district of Manipur to be the last to electrify, the situation is contrasting when media persons visited the particular village.

The search for the village in Senapati has led to the discovery of some facts which arguably contradicts the ‘fully electrified India’.

Situated on the extreme west of the Senapati district is two villages namely Chaka and Kangjang, bordering Peren district of Nagaland.

The two villages have no electricity and still living on  Kerosene lamp and pine twigs to light their homes although the PM claimed that India is fully electrified.

Both the villages are inhabited by Liangmei Naga tribe and jhum cultivation is their main profession like most of the villages in Manipur.  

Chaka village is about 131 km away from the district headquarter while Kangjang about 70 km and both are revenue villages.   

Apparently to meet the deadline for the total electrification programme (off the grid) of the government, the Manipur Renewable Energy Development Agency (MANIREDA) distributed solar lighting kits to both the villages unfortunately most of them are not functional.

powerless villageOn March 23 the MANIREDA distributed 20 solar lighting kits to our village but only one remains functional, said Namcham Pamei, village secretary of Chaka.

He maintained that the authority concerned was apprised of the situation on April 23 but there is no response till date.

Similarly, MANIREDA distributed 18 solar lighting kits to Kangjang village but only two remains functional and two kits never worked, said K. Solomon son of the village chief.

He said that technical problem encountered about two weeks after the solar lighting kits were distributed on April first week and now he even use Kerosene lamp.

K. Epungbale, about 65 years old villager of Kangjang, said technician fitted the solar panel in her home but the bulb failed to lit up since the solar panel was installed.

“The technician told me the problem could be due to low battery and will be fine after few days of charging. But I don’t know why my light is still not working”, she said.

Epungbale said she continue to mostly depend on the primitive method of burning pine twigs to light her home instead of Kerosene lamp.

It is learnt that Kerosene is not easily available in the village and it cost around Rs. 50 to 60 per litre.

Another villager, P. Sagompiliu, 70, said “About three people came to my house and started getting busy. They hammered the wall fixing some kind of string (wire) and then hanged a round object from the ceiling and left. I still don’t know why they put that thing there”.

The solar kits in Sagompiliu’s house, was one of the two kits that did not function since the day it was installed and she uses Kerosene lamp to light her house.

Kangjang village has 18 households and is only about 50 years old unlike Chaka which is said to be over century old. Chaka has 75 households and was once used as transit camp for the British army.   

The two villages has many things in common like the fact that both reels under government apathy and lacks basic amenities like good roads, proper drinking waters, healthcare, educations etc.

The only means of transport of the villages is four wheel drive vehicle and truck (Shaktiman) but during rainy season it is only accessible by foot.

Kangjang village has a slight advantage over Chaka judging by the distance from district head quarter.

Village secretary of Chaka, Chamnam Pamei, said his village is now connected to the outside world with a bailey bridge constructed by the British. The nearest health care facility is about 49 km away from the village.

“We have been neglected by the government in every aspects that sometimes we wants to be part of Nagaland”, he lamented.

According to him, the neighbouring Peren district which is only about 30 km from the village, is in better condition when compared to their side and can be reached by two wheeler vehicle after negotiating rough terrain.

He added that the villagers use BSNL mobile signals sometimes received from other side of the border.

So alienated is the villages, for some of the village elders it appears that civilization has not dawned upon them. “I have no idea what you are talking about” was the reply of an old lady in her 70s, when this reporter asked her whether she knew the name of the Prime Minister and Chief Minister of Manipur.

~IFP
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