Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribe population living in four villages of Bhaderwah has lost all hopes of getting electricity connections.
They have been running from pillar to post for electricity connections but no one is listening to them. Their pleas have gone unheard. They complain that there has been no progress on the ground despite allocation of funds by the centre a few years ago.
“All surrounding villages have been electrified some two decades ago but we have been left out perhaps only because of our caste, as only Gujjars and Mahasha people reside in these villages. India became independent 68 years ago, but we are still suffering,” a Panchayat member of Batoli village, Ghulam Rasool Gujjar said.
Residents here say that centre claims to have provided adequate funds to all states especially for those living in downtrodden society in accordance with Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana(RGGVY) and Deen Dayal Upadhaya Gram Jyoti Yojana(DDUGJY), but we have been left out despite living just 2 kilometers from the main road. State government has ignored us because of our social status and poverty.
Hamlets which are without electricity are Batoli, Bani and Chakla in Chakka Panchayat and Grounda village of Mathola Panchayat in Bhaderwah Tehsil. “In 2011, electric polls and transformers were installed in Batoli by a private company under Centrally-sponsored RGGVY scheme, but five years have passed and there has been no progress. Now there is hardly any wire left on the poles as linemen sold them,” a local resident Jagdev Singh Mahasha said.
Residents of these villages say that they have been facing multiple problems. “Even in the 21st century, the students of these villages are forced to use firewood to prepare for their exams and do the homework. We don’t even get kerosene for lamps and our parents hold the firewood torch for us and only then we can study. The government should listen to our woes and provide us with electricity or solar lights at the earliest,” Sadam Hussain, a student, said adding that because there is no electricity here.
Residents say they have given up on hope of receiving electricity. “I have lived like this for as long as I can remember,” said 60-year-old Sher Mohammed of Village Batoli. “In 2011, we were asked to carry the poles and transformer to our village, which we happily did in a hope to get electricity but now it is 2016 and we are still living in darkness despite running from pillar-to-post. We have lost all the hopes as we have exhausted our resources and have finally given up,” he added.
Despite pleading before political representatives and civil administration several times and numerous visits to the electricity department, there has been no improvement, claim Fateh Mohammed Gujjar, a resident of Bani. Nasib Singh, Superintendent Engineer maintenance and rural electrification Chenab Valley said, “Due to some dispute, the private company which was assigned to electrify Batoli village under first phase of RGGVY could not complete the work. As of now we are waiting for the funds from Union Government under Deen Dayal Upadhyay Gram Jyoti Yojana for 100 percent Rural Electrification. As soon as we get funds, we will electrify these villages.”