Other States

A Bihar village in the dark for ages

Abdul Barique (extreme right), the oldest man of Chhoti Mahuli-Kachahri Tola, a village of Muslim community in Darbhanga district of Bihar, withother residents. Photo: Ranjeet Kumar

Abdul Barique (extreme right), the oldest man of Chhoti Mahuli-Kachahri Tola, a village of Muslim community in Darbhanga district of Bihar, withother residents. Photo: Ranjeet Kumar  

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No electricity in Chhoti Mahuli-Kachahri Tola since the village was established

Mohammed Salim could not finalise the marriage of his son Arman recently as there is no electricity in his village; Mohammed Faizan recently stopped going to school as students from nearby villages teased him for living in an aandheriya gaon [a village in pitch dark]; teenager Mohammed Miraz fled the darkness of his village to Mumbai last year to work as a plumber.

These are not isolated cases. Every household in Chhoti Mahuli-Kachahri Tola village under the Muraitha panchayat of Jale block in Darbhanga district of north Bihar has a similar tale to tell.

This village of over 2,000 Muslims has been waiting for electricity ever since it was established 150 years ago. Interestingly, just 100 metres away from this “power-less” village, every household gets electricity for 14 hours.

Once the sun sets, life comes to a standstill here. Snakebite is the most common problem the villagers face. “Every other day, snakes bite someone in the village as there is no light here,” said a village elder Mohammed Ayyub.

“Our children often do not get marriage proposals or are turned down as people do not want to send their daughters where there is no electricity,” complained Mohammed Salim, an agriculturist.

The villagers have no television sets, no refrigerators and have to travel to the nearby villages to get their mobile phones charged for Rs. 5 each time. The younger generation travels 5-7 km every time there is a cricket match on TV. The two village mosques are powered by solar energy, yet the ritual azaan becomes inaudible most of the time as the solar batteries run out of charge.

“It’s not that we cannot afford appliances but what’s the use when there is no electricity,” rued Mohammed Rizwan, who works with a private mobile telephone company.

Mohammed Rizwan is the first graduate of the village. For the past five years, he and his friend Mohammed Masud Alam have been filing applications under the Right to Information Act and knocking the doors of every official concerned for getting power supply to his village. He has even written to the Prime Minister’s Office, the Chief Minister’s office, local MPs, MLAs, top district officials and Electricity Department officers but to no avail.

“Twenty-one people applied for connection in 2001, but nothing has happened yet,” said Mohammed Anwarul.

Generators thrive

Running generators is a thriving business in the village. It has three private power generators which charge Rs. 80 a month for a three-hour daily supply for a single bulb.

For the oldest resident of the village, Abdul Barique, 95, the only wish “is to see the children watching TV in our own village.” He cannot understand why his village has been left out while the neighbouring villages got electricity.”

‘We feel cheated’

“It is perhaps because here only Muslims live and most of the time we’ve had BJP MLAs or MPs … though we’ve been voting for them, they do not believe us … we feel cheated,” he says.

In one of the few concrete houses of the village lives Mohammed Mujibur Rahman, a retired police sub-inspector, who was the bodyguard of former Chief Minister Lalu Prasad. “I had even requested Lalu Prasadji to get electricity for our village a number of times but except assurances I got nothing,” he said.

The local MLA, Rishi Mishra, from the ruling JD(U) said urgent steps were being taken to electrify the village. Asked how soon, the MLA told The Hindu: “Within a month.”

The villagers are keeping their fingers crossed.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2020 11:18:13 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/a-bihar-village-in-the-dark-for-ages/article6579274.ece

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