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India: Villagers Demand “Real Electricity” from their Government — not the “Fake” Kind

Tip of the hat to A. Marciniak for the find.

Bihar village clamours for real electricity

From India Today — August 2014

The least you would expect when you bring electricity to an entire village, ending over three decades of darkness, is a ‘thank you’ from its residents. But no such niceties here in Dharnai, a nondescript village tucked away in the Naxal heartland of Bihar.

The residents of Dharnai are far from satisfied to see lights for the first time in 33 years, courtesy a solar-powered micro-grid set up by the environment watchdog Greenpeace India. They now want asli bijli (real electricity) from the government.

Slogan such as “Hamen nakli nahin, asli bijli chahiye (We do not want artificial energy, give us the real one,)” greeted former Chief minister Nitish Kumar, as he went to the village to see how the long forgotten region, devoid of electricity since 1981, looked after dusk. Nitish who was happy to see the metamorphosis of the village, with its houses and streets illuminated with the two-week old 100-kW micro-grid installed at a cost of Rs.3 crore, was met by village youngsters carrying placards demanding “real source of energy”, and “not the fake solar powered” one.

Though the former chief minister tried to put up a brave front, asserting how the inexhaustible solar power would become the main source of energy in the future, he eventually promised the villagers that “real electricity” would be provided to them shortly.

“Do not worry, the electricity which you consider the real one will also come to your doorstep in a few days from now,” he assured while addressing the crowds assembled at a well-lit venue. Nitish who has often stated that he would not seek re-election if he is not able to provide electricity to the entire state, instructed senior officials of the energy department to look into their demand for the real stuff.

The last time Dharnai got electricity was at the height of Maoist violence in 1981. The power supply to the village got snapped after a transformer installed in the village got burnt. The cables were also subsequently stolen away. Since then, its residents lived in perennial darkness.

wind-solar-power

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