Imagine life without electricity in the age of Digital India and Make in India!
This is not a fairy tale from Mars but a reality in the heartland of Kashmir. For the last 70 years Minagah village in Kupwara district is eagerly waiting to see the electric bulb glowing.
Housing 10,000 people, the village has been living in abject darkness for the last 70 years. On every election, the politicians make a beeline with a flurry of promises to bring electricity to the village. Soon after the results are declared, the promises are forgotten and 10000 mortals are left to fend for themselves.
“We are living without electricity even after 70 years of India’s Independence. There has been no progress on the ground despite repeated assurances by local legislator during 2014 election campaign,” said the residents of the village.
Seemingly taking a cue for a bollywood potboiler, the officials of the Power Development Department (PDD) during last elections brought a power transformer kindling hope that the darkness will finally end in the village.
“Ironically the PDD officials took away the transformer soon after the elections were over. People in power make misleading and false promises to lure gullible people to vote”, lamented Ali Mohammad, an elderly villager.
Minister for law, rural development Abdul Haq Khan who is also MLA Kupwara admitted that these villages lack electrification. “All these villages will be electrified under a new scheme launched by the Government of India”, he said.
It is not only power, the village is lacking basic facilities. Illiteracy, unemployment and disease is prevalent in this village. In fact the people do not send their wards to schools given their meager income. Health care facilities are luxury and potable water is a dream for the villagers.
“Parents do not send their children to school as with the meager income they could provide either food or education. So they prefer food. Some children who are keen to study are forced to use candles to prepare for their exams. The government should listen to our woes and provide us with electricity at an earliest”, said a local villager.
Health care facilities are located several kilometers away from the hamlet. During emergencies, locals carry the patient on their shoulders and trek the distance to reach the nearby hospital.
A Civil Society member of Kupwara said they have every reason to believe that the remote villages of frontier district Kupwara are deprived of all the basic facilities. “The situation of the villages lying on the borders of Kashmir Valley is perhaps the worst of all”, he said