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Villagers come seeking power from political elite

Residents of Maharashtra's Jalka village came calling on political leaders in New Delhi on Tuesday with a request to provide electricity to India's villages, using renewable energy sources.

delhi Updated: Apr 14, 2009 20:49 IST

Residents of Kalavati's village Jalka came calling on political leaders in New Delhi on Tuesday with a request to provide electricity to India's villages, using renewable energy sources. Kalavati, the widow of a farmer in Maharashtra's Yavatmal district, had a much-publicised visit from Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi last year.

Since then, the village has been in the public eye, and the NGO Greenpeace had set up a solar power system there, which was launched March 30.

Of the politicians the villagers met, D Raja of the Communist Party of India (CPI) agreed with them that India has solar and wind potential to meet the energy demand of its villages, said a spokesperson of Greenpeace, which organised the visit. "Now we cannot only depend on thermal and hydel projects to meet our energy demands," he added.

Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal, who holds the science and technology portfolio in the outgoing government, offered "120 per cent support to renewable energy sources".

Arun Shourie of the principal opposition Bharatiya Janata Party told the delegates, "Decentralised renewable energy is the way forward for India."

After the meetings, Jalka Sarpanch (village head) Anusuyabai Kumbhare said, "We the rural poor of India are tired of paper promises that the political parties make every time during elections."

"The Electricity for all 2009" promise made by the government remains unfulfilled; do not expect the rural citizens of the country to keep voting for politicians who make empty promises."

Over 78 million households in India are still without access to electricity and for many millions more power supply is intermitent at best, the Greenpeace spokesperson pointed out.