Malangpa Lower Primary School in Dima Hasao district. Picture by Samsul Alam
Haflong: "What is electric light?" asked seven-year-old Keyidimbe Jeme of Malangpa village in south Assam's Dima Hasao district on Monday.
Curiosity filled the child's eyes as electricity has not reached Malangpa, a 400-year-old village, 26km from the district headquarters of Haflong. The village has 40 households having a population of 300.
Esove Pame, headman of Malangpa, told The Telegraph on Monday, "Our village is one of the oldest in Dima Hasao but it has not received electricity yet. We are totally dependent on kerosene lamps and lanterns. We have been requesting the authorities for electrification for years but nothing has been done. I request the Prime Minister to visit our village to know the ground reality."
Just the day before, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had taken to Twitter to share that the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre had achieved complete electrification of all villages in the country.
Modi had tweeted on Sunday: "April 28, 2018 will be remembered as a historic day in the development journey of India. Yesterday, we fulfilled a commitment due to which the lives of several Indians will be transformed forever! I am delighted that every single village in India now has access to electricity."
Aching Zeme, a social worker, said, "How can a Prime Minister issue such a statement without knowing the facts? There are many villages in our district where there is no electricity. In some villages, electric poles have been erected but electric connection is still a dream. Many villages don't even have road connectivity."
A source in Assam Power Distribution Company Limited (AODCL) said 170 villages of Dima Hasao were selected under the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana, a central scheme to facilitate 24x7 supply of power to all the villages of the country. Of the 170 villages, 140 have got electricity while electrification work is on in 30 villages. An APDCL official said in accordance with the norms of Rural Electrification Corporation Limited, under the ministry of power, at least 10 per cent households need to be connected for a village to be declared electrified.
Calls to APCDL authorities went unanswered but sources said more than 20 villages are yet to be included in the rural scheme list.
Bahim Chandra Langthasa, a senior citizen of Haflong, went on an indefinite hunger strike at Basabari, 60km from here, on Monday, demanding electrification of the district's remote villages and repair of roads. He called off his strike in the evening following assurance from the administration.