Power eludes eight villages despite tribal people carrying heavy poles up the hill

‘Contractor failed to pay us wages and instead asking us to pay ₹2,000 for each connection’

June 10, 2021 06:06 pm | Updated 07:46 pm IST - VISAKHAPATNAM

Tribal people staging a protest seeking power supply, on Thursday.

Tribal people staging a protest seeking power supply, on Thursday.

The tribal people of Anantagiri mandal in the district carried heavy poles for 10 km up the hill with the hope of getting electricity. But, that was not to be. Though the poles were erected and the transmission lines laid a couple of months ago, they are yet to get power supply.

The disappointed tribals staged a novel protest at Dayarthi village on Thursday by kneeling on the ground and appealing to the officials with folded hands to provide power to their villages.

The tribal people of eight villages, who have been living in the dark for the past several years, in the mandal, had a glimmer of hope that they will soon get electricity. When the contractor, appointed by the authorities to carry out the pole laying work, sought their assistance to carry the poles up the hill, they readily agreed thinking he would pay for their labour.

“We toiled for nearly two months in carrying the poles. He agreed to pay us money for carrying the poles and wires and digging of earth. The laying of poles and digging of earth for erection of the poles were completed a couple of months ago,” says Rajababu of Dayarthi village.

“When we are asking the contractor for payment of our wages, instead of clearing the dues, he wants us to pay ₹2,000 for each connection at the Mee Seva centre for provision of meter by the electricity department staff,” says Sidiri Satya Rao of the same village. “There are around 300 families living in the eight villages under Jeenapadu, Pinakota and Pedakota panchayats of the mandal. The material was unloaded at Ballagoruvu village and it was carried up the hills by the tribals,” he says.

“A total of 236 non-electrified villages in the Agency have been sanctioned power supply during the previous government. Some of the villages had solar power in the past but the systems had become defunct a few years ago. The meters have to be provided free of cost in the tribal areas to first-time consumers,” says CPI(M) leader K. Govinda Rao. “The rate for carrying a pole, digging a pit and erecting it is around ₹2,500 and the tribal people carried 200 poles for the work. The electricity department and the ITDA officials have not initiated any action against the contractor. We will take the issue to the notice of the new Project Officer of the ITDA on June 14,” he says.

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