A long-pending grievance of some of the residents of Periyar Nagar, Tiruvannamalai, situated in and around the ‘Girivalam’ path that they do not have power connection, is getting redressed with the Madras High Court directing those authorities to provide the supply based on their applications along with necessary undertaking and indemnity bond. The connection should be provided within four weeks from the date of receipt of applications and other requirements.
The case of the petitioners, T.M.Prakash and 10 others was that they were residing in government poromboke lands for the past two centuries. The petitioners engaged in laundry work have put up huts and their children were studying in schools and colleges, but they did not have electricity connection. When they submitted applications to the electricity authorities, the latter insisted on NOC from the District Collector. Their representations seeking NOC were rejected for which this plea was filed.
The electricity board counsel said that at a meeting at the Collectorate in November 2005 in which eminent persons and officials of various departments participated, the board was instructed not to effect new service connections and also to disconnect all connections on both sides of the ‘Girivalam’ (devotees going round the hill) path.
Justice S. Manikumar said the Tamil Nadu Electricity Distribution Code made it mandatory on the licensee to provide the supply to those who were in poromboke lands, on production of NOC. When no such certificate could be produced by the applicants and when they could give no undertaking or declaration, the board could not deny service connection to the petitioners who had substantiated that they were continuously residing in the place. This was also admitted by the electricity authorities.
Lack of electricity supply was one of the prime factors affecting education and health and the cause for economic disparity. Right to electricity to a person in occupation of a government poromboke land was recognised in the distribution code and it was integral to the achievement of socio-economic rights. Also, access to electricity should be construed as a human right, of course, to the satisfaction of the requirements under the electricity laws. Denial of the same, even after satisfying the requirements, would amount to violation of human rights. The authorities action were regressive. The petitioners were residing in and around the ‘Girivalam’ path at least from 2005 without electricity supply. Though the district administration had claimed that the petitioners were encroachers in and around the path, the residents could not be expected to live in darkness, the Judge said.