A long-pending grievance of some of residents of Periyar Nagar, Tiruvannamalai, in and around the ‘Girivalam’ path, that they do not have power connection, is getting redressed with the Madras High Court directing the authorities to provide 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 on poromboke lands for the past two centuries. They were engaged in laundry work.
They had put up huts and their children were studying in schools and colleges. But, they did not have power connection. When they submitted applications to the authorities, the latter insisted on NOC from Collector. Their representations seeking NOC were rejected. Hence, the present plea.
Electricity Board’s 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 disconnect all connections on both sides of the ‘Girivalam’ path.
Justice S.Manikumar said the Tamil Nadu Electricity Distribution Code made it mandatory on the licencee to provide the supply to those who were on poromboke lands, on production of NOC.
When no such certificate could be produced by the applicants and when they could give an 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 electricity authorities.
Lack of electricity supply was one of the determinative factors affecting education and health and the cause for economic disparity. Electricity supply was an aid to get information and knowledge. Electricity supply to the poor supported education. Along with suitable employment, disparity would be reduced to a certain extent. 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. Access to electricity should be construed as a human right, of course, to the satisfaction of requirements under the electricity laws. Denial of the same, upon even satisfying the requirements, would amount to violation of human rights. The authorities’ action was 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 Girivalam path, the residents could not be expected to live in darkness, the Judge said.
Connection should be provided within four weeks from the date of receipt of applications