Kerala

Solar power propels a protest in Malappuram

The solar panels set up by the protesting LP school teacher candidates in front of their shamiana on the Malappuram collectorate premises.

The solar panels set up by the protesting LP school teacher candidates in front of their shamiana on the Malappuram collectorate premises.

The high cost of petrol has forced a group of women staging an indefinite hunger strike in front of the District Collectorate here to install solar panels for power.

The Collectorate premises have witnessed hundreds of agitations before; but it is the first time that a group of women are staging a hunger strike by installing solar panels and batteries for power.

Scores of lower primary school teacher applicants from the district are staging the relay hunger strike, demanding justice for Malappuram district in shortlisting of the candidates after a public service commission examination held in November 2020.

The protesters allege that the government has shortlisted only one-third of the number of candidates who ought to have been in the list for primary school teacher appointments. “Only 997 candidates have been shortlisted in the main list. As per the norms being applied elsewhere in the State, as many as 3,543 candidates should be there in the main list,” says Anu Priya and Divya Jithesh, chairperson and convener respectively of the applicants collective.

They began the agitation on December 13 last year, and spent more than ₹60,000 for generator. “The high cost of petrol made us rethink about power generation. So we turned to solar power by installing panels and batteries,” they said. They spent nearly ₹1 lakh for the installation of solar panels and batteries as though in anticipation of a longer struggle.

They have two fans, three tubes, and a public address system in their agitation shamiana. The government response to the hunger strike has not been positive. So they bought a good public address system instead of hiring one.

“What we want is a proper explanation from the authorities for following separate ‘norms’ for Malappuram. But none has given us a convincing answer,” says Ms. Divya and Ms. Anu.

It is learnt that the government reduced the number of lower primary school teacher applicants in the main list for Malappuram because of the current financial crunch. However, none is ready to go on record.

As many as 26 of the protesting women were hospitalised as they faced near exhaustion after three or four days of hunger strike. “We are not willing to back off. Everyone knows that we are on hunger strike for a genuine cause. We will fight until justice is delivered to Malappuram,” they say.


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Printable version | May 14, 2022 7:46:33 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/solar-powers-a-protest-in-malappuram/article38309921.ece