Tales from the Hinterland - Joy of electrification lights up homes in these remote tribal hamlets

Electrification is lighting up most of the houses in this hamlet near the Papanasam dam though most other basic infrastructure remains scant

April 14, 2012 03:01 am | Updated 03:01 am IST - TIRUNELVELI

Bright future: A member of the Kaani tribe switches on the light at his house in Mayilaar Kaani, near Papanasam, in Tirunelveli district recently.  Photo: N. Rajesh

Bright future: A member of the Kaani tribe switches on the light at his house in Mayilaar Kaani, near Papanasam, in Tirunelveli district recently. Photo: N. Rajesh

Like the radiance from the new solar powered compact fluorescent lights (CFL) in his home, M. Ganesamurthy's face shines with glee. His dwelling amid the jungles of the Western Ghats near Papanasam has received power connection, something which was beyond the imagination of the tribal population.

The joy of electrification is lighting up most of the houses in this hamlet near the Papanasam dam though most other basic infrastructure, which is taken for granted in a civilised society, remains scant ever since the habitation was established about 60 years ago.

Kaani hamlets

Though the hamlet is situated close to the dam, where 28 MW electricity is being generated by the hydro electric power station since 1944, five Kaani hamlets – Chinna Mayilaar Kaani, Periya Mayilaar Kaani, Agasthiyar Kaani, Servalar Kaani and Injikuzhi Kaani – all located inside the Kalakkad- Mundanhturai Tiger Reserve (KMTR), had no power owing to restrictions imposed by the Forest Department as they are is situated inside a tiger sanctuary.

Dispelling darkness

Realising the problems faced by this isolated population owing to non-availability of power, the Pandyan Grama Bank, NABARD and the Rotary Club of Tinnevelly joined hands to dispel the darkness that envelops them after sunset.

Joint initiative

Under their joint initiative, each of the 39 Kaani tribal families – 37 in Chinna Mayilaar Kaani and Periya Mayilaar Kaani and two in Agasthiyar Kaani – got solar powered lights (two 9W CFL and one 7W CFL) all at a special price of Rs.13,650.

Subsidies

While a chunk of the amount is from a subsidised loan released by the Pandyan Grama Bank with 5 per cent interest, the down payment of Rs.1,900 was shared by the beneficiaries and a few members of Rotary Club of Tinnevelly.

Members of the Rotary Club of Tinnevelly contributed Rs.39,000, which left the beneficiary families to fork out just Rs.900 as down payment.

As the repayment schedule of the loan is over a period of five years, the monthly instalment to be paid by each beneficiary has been kept as low as Rs.300.

Training in maintenance

The supplier of these solar powered lights has also trained two Kaani youths in the simple steps involved in maintaining the lights, particularly the battery, supposed to be the heart of this system, so as to ensure its longevity.

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