In nano age, Sirsi villages grope in power-deprived region

Electricity poles erected, but tough terrain, rain delay connection

There is darkness below the lamp, they say and it is more than true for people in a few villages - Ragihosalli, Keregani, Mundagaru, Etagar, Sampekatte, Totadagadde and Bugadi of the taluk in Uttara Kannada district. 

This district provides 2,000 megawatts (MW) of power from its seven hydropower projects and the Kaiga Atomic Power Station. But these villages have none of it. 

They have to subsist on candle lights and kerosene lamps. For three decades now, only promises have been generated.

Everyone in the 75 houses in the seven villages, sunset does not make way for electric lights.  The student population have to depend on non-electric lights to do their homework and study after nightfall. 

These villages remind one of the pre-independence villages when electric lights were a luxury. 

Ragihosalli is 35 km from the taluk centre. The rickety road from there leads to the less fortunate villages. Electricity poles, along with transformers, were erected in these villages way back in 1982-83. But then, the terrain and the frequent rains led the authorities to postpone work on providing power to these villages. During rain, heavy branches of trees fell on the supply lines and the work was hampered. 

The power lines were stolen and a case was registered in this connection. Hescom has never bothered to supply electricity to the people. 

Sridhar Gouda, a resident, said: “We are running from pillar to post to get electricity. But that seems far-fetched. Fortunately, the Department of Forests has been providing solar power connections. This has ensured that our children at least know what electricity is all about. But its scope is limited, as it lasts only for a few hours.”  A majority of people in these areas are tribals and backward classes like Marathis, Goudas and Naiks. The main crops of the area are paddy and arecanut. A majority of the locals belong to the working class. 

Provision of water to the fields is difficult as there is no power for the motors.  The people get three to four litres of kerosene per ration card and it has become too precious a fuel for the people as they have to use it for cooking as well as for the study lamps of their children. Lalita Gouda, a local, says: ”We know what television, mixer and other gadgets are. But we are not able to use them. We depend on the stone grinder.”

All in all, power is not absolute for these people.

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