In the absence of power supply, most residents of Barinpurwa have solar panels, ranging from 20 to 100 watts, installed on their rooftops or in the open. Ranjeeta has a 40-watt solar panel, which cost her ₹4,500, installed on her roof. “I bought it 10 months ago. It serves basic needs but during foggy days and during the rains we have to live in darkness,” she said.While the Centre recently claimed that it had electrified the last inhabited village in the country, 3.13 crore households in India still live without electricity. The highest number of such households are in Uttar Pradesh, 1.33 crore.Only 56% households are electrified in the state, as per the Centre’s Saubhagya scheme portal. Only Jharkhand fares worse than UP, at 48%.The figure for Barabanki, where Barinpurwa is located, is below average, at 51%, but slightly better than districts like Jalaun, Jhansi and Lalitpur, all in Bundelkhand, which have only 25, 27 and 26% of households electrified even today.Last September, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Saubhagya scheme to provide “last mile connectivity and service connections to all remaining households in both rural and urban areas to achieve universal household electrification” by December 31, 2018. The task in UP is clearly uphill. According to the state government, from October 2017 to March 2018, it gave out 15.88 lakh power connections under the scheme, out of which 8.77 lakh were handed out to poor families. Oil lamp is the popular source of light in Barinpurwa. | Photo Credit: Rajeev Bhatt | Photo Credit: Rajeev Bhatt The market of Tiwaripur majra in Kolahda village where residents have installed solar panel in open area. According to Saubhagya portal, 4.21 lakh households were electrified in UP in January, 5.41 lakh in February, 1.50 lakh in March and 2.45 lakh in April. Last year, the state also claimed to provide electricity to 61,000 majras and targets another 62 lakh in 2018.However, residents of Tiwaripur majra in Kolahda village are still without power. Shailendri Tiwari’s house is one of them. Electric wires pass through right outside her house, but the family still does not have a power connection.The poles supply power to the next hamlet as hers is still being surveyed by officials. “When the power department people came to install these poles, I asked them to connect it to my house, but they demanded ₹35,000 for the cables and transformer. Now, if I had that much money, wouldn’t I purchase a big solar roof?” asked Shailendri.Her family depends on tiny emergency lights, which are charged through a 20-watt solar panel. She does not use lamps as she is no longer entitled for kerosene. The lack of electric supply poses great challenges to her four daughters, all of whom are in school. The family has been regularly writing to the electricity department requesting electrification of their majra. On February 5, the department finally wrote back saying that the majra was still being surveyed under the ‘Power for All’ scheme, which was launched jointly by the Centre and state last April, and that the households would be electrified by December 2018.Executive engineer of the UP Power Corporation (Madhyanchal), Bhaskar, said the households still left to be electrified were being surveyed and on April 12 the work in his area had been deputed to Bajaj Electricals.“They are carrying out the door-to-door survey, finding out which village has households left behind. They will also do the electrification bit, be it fitting poles or putting up transformers,” said Bhaskar.UP Power Minister Shrikant Sharma said he was confident of achieving the target of total electrification of the remaining households in the state by December as the infrastructure for Saubhagya scheme was ready on the ground.When the BJP came to power in UP, he said, the state had 1.87 crore un-electrified households, but in one year the BJP government gave out connections to 36 lakh people.“If you compare, the track record of the last 15 years comes to 6.5 lakh connections per year. While in one year, we have given out 36 lakh connections. You can estimate the speed at which we are working,” he said. Barinpurwa is a Dalit majra — majra being a hamlet — with a population of 250-300, within the Manodharpur gram sabha of Barabanki district. While the gram sabha is technically electrified, the residents of Barinpurva still have to rely on kerosene lamps to beat the darkness. Many of them have installed solar panels for basic power supply. The village is located barely 50 km from the capital of Uttar Pradesh.Durgesh Bari’s house, located at the entry to the majra, does not have a fan or a TV set as he has no power supply. There is not a single electric pole or transformer in the majra. While the kitchen is kept out of darkness by kerosene lamps, a 20-watt solar panel helps charge mobile phones and tiny emergency lights so that the children can study in the evening. And when that fails, the family relies on a shop at the village square to charge phones at a nominal fee though a generator.“Last year some people came with electric poles and dug pits too. The women were so excited they helped them dig. But before they could plant them in our majra, they took the poles back and installed them in the neighbouring majra, saying they had come here due to a clerical mistake,” said Durgesh, pointing to the dug-out patches outside his house. That was the closest the Dalit family, which farms 1.5 bigha land for survival, came to having a power connection.Sudha, Durgesh’s mother, said the going gets tough during peak summer when the heat makes life difficult under the tin roof without a fan. “When it gets unbearable, I run to the trees for shade,” she says.Moreover, the family has to utilise the kerosene frugally as the household only gets 2 litres per month in ration, added Sudha.
One soldier was killed in a fierce exchange of fire on the Line of Control (LoC) in Rajouri as Pakistan resorted to “unprovoked” ceasefire violation in Pir Panchal Valley’s Rajouri district and the Kashmir Valley and two Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) militants, including a ‘commander’, were killed in an encounter in Anantnag on Tuesday.A Jammu-based Army spokesman identified the soldier killed as Naik Krishan Lal. “The Pakistan Army resorted to unprovoked ceasefire violation along the LoC in Sunderbani Sector in Rajouri on Tuesday. The Indian Army responded strongly and effectively. Heavy damage to Pakistani Army posts and casualties to Pakistani soldiers have been inflicted by our troops,” he said.Rajouri and Poonch districts have witnessed intermittent incidents of ceasefire violations by Pakistan in the past one week, which left a 12-day infant dead and two civilians injured.Pakistani troops also resorted to heavy firing and shelling in Kashmir’s Kupwara from 1 p.m. up to 5:15 p.m. on Tuesday. The residents of Karnah had to ran for cover as shells rained near residential areas. Nazir Ahmad, a local, said his family members were stranded at different locations for many hours due to the sudden shelling.“Two residents received minor injuries and were shifted to the Sub-District Hospital, Tangdhar. Both are out of danger,” said sub-divisional magistrate Dr. Alyas Ahmad.National Conference (NC) president and Srinagar MP Dr. Farooq Abdullah said it was the population living across the LoC that had to bear the brunt of escalation of tension between India and Pakistan.“It’s high-time both the countries respected the dignity of lives of people living across the border. The need of the hour calls for total cessation of hostilities,” he said.2 Jaish militants killedThe police said the slain militants were JeM commander Fayaz Panzoo from Tral and his associate Shaan Showkat from Kanalwan area.“Panzoo was a top commander and was involved in an attack on the CRPF in Anantnag town on June 12 this year, which left five CRPF personnel and one police officer dead,” said the police.
Slamming the Centre over alleged lack of transparency in the ongoing Naga peace talks, former Union Minister Jairam Ramesh has said that the Congress will oppose any agreement, if it changes the geography of Manipur and any other northeastern State. A six-member Congress delegation arrived here on Sunday to take stock of the situation in Manipur arising out of the Naga peace talks and gather the opinions of people and party leaders on the National Register of Citizens (NRC).“There is no transparency regarding Naga peace talks on the part of the central government. The progress in the ongoing Naga peace talks has not been disclosed,” Mr. Ramesh told reporters at the Congress Bhawan here. Any accord which would change the geography of any State of the northeast region, including Manipur, will be opposed by the Congress, he said.“During the tenure of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, the Centre had signed Assam, Mizoram and Tripura accords “without changing the geography of any state”, the senior Congress leader said. The former Union Minister was accompanied by AICC general secretary Mukul Wasnik, former union minister of state Jitendra Singh, MP Manickam Tagore, AICC secretary Ranjit Mukherjee and Mohammed Ali Khan. Last week, the Union Home Ministry had said that lot of rumours and misinformation was being spread that the final Naga settlement had been arrived at and would be announced soon.“This is creating anxiety and concern in some parts of the country. It is clarified that before any settlement is arrived at with Naga groups, all stakeholders including states of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh will be duly consulted and their concerns will be taken into consideration. No credence needs to be given to such rumours and incorrect information,” the MHA statement had said. Former Manipur Chief Minister O. Ibobi Singh said that the Centre, according to media reports, has rejected the NSCN-IM demand for separate flag and Constitution during the Naga peace talks.“People in Manipur are confused whether the demand for greater Nagaland has been accepted or not. If it is accepted by the present government, the party will oppose it tooth and nail,” the Congress Legislature Party leader in Manipur said.