Iboyaima Laithangbam

IMPHAL: Tribals, young and old, in the remote villages of Old Lemta, Dunong and Makuinong in Manipur’s Tamenglong district bordering Nagaland have never seen electric light. Only the lucky few who visited Imphal or other towns in the country had seen this wonder.

However, thanks to the Manipur Renewable Energy Development Agency, a government undertaking, now the tribals have solar electricity. Solar lighting panels were installed at the personal initiative of N. Awangbow, MLA representing the remote and neglected villages.

C. Kadijaiwi, chieftain of Old Lemta, said it would take not less than half a century for the Electricity Department to power the villages. There are no modern amenities available to the villagers and electricity is still a pipe dream.

C. Hungamkhambou, chieftain of Dunong, said students had no light to study at night. A litre of kerosene costs Rs. 40 or more in the district. As poor villagers cannot afford to keep lamps, they have dinner before nightfall and go to bed soon after.

N. Wikambou, a pastor at Makuinong, said the villagers’ dream had now come true and they were grateful to officials and Mr. Awangbow.

As the sky is always clear in this mountainous area, there will be no dearth of solar power.

But, in the capital Imphal, the Electricity Department supplies power only for a few hours every day. In sharp contrast, there is round-the-clock power supply in the neighbouring Nagaland.

The Manipur government has been obtaining power from the NHPC-run Loktak Hydro Electric Project and the national grid.

However, the Power Department has been unable to clear outstanding bills, running to crores. It has been reported that government departments, ministers and high officials owe power bills amounting to over Rs. 15 crore. .

There are many villages which have electric posts and transmission lines, but no electricity. Now, the happy tribals of Tamenglong district feel that all remote villages should be provided solar lighting, which will illuminate their homes every night, rather than power connections.