Nagla Fatela, a small village 170km from Delhi, has been thrust into spotlight after it found a mention in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day speech.
The “electrification” of this village of around 600 households was cited as an example of good governance by the Prime Minister but soon contradictory claims emerged.
“There is a village called Nagla Fatela in Hathras area of Uttar Pradesh. From Delhi it takes only three hours to reach the village. But it took 70 years for electricity to reach there,” Modi had said.
So, does Nagla Fatela has power? Yes and no.
Villagers and power department officials have different views but a few facts shed some light on the village’s power situation.
The village got electricity for tubewells in the 1980s --- there is no agreement exactly when.
The state’s power suppliers Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation Limited said “electricity was being supplied to the village for the last 25 years but it was for tubewells only”.
“The village got electricity some 25-30 years ago and people are paying bills too,” village pradhan Yogesh Kumar told HT over phone. The connections were given from power lines feeding tubewells.
“The power department is yet to charge the electricity lines under the new infrastructure developed some eight months ago under the Rajiv Gandhi Gramin Vidyutikaran Yojana (RGGVY),” he said.
RGGVY is the Union government’s rural electrification initiative.
The Centre, which was forced to issue a clarification on Tuesday as the debate raged on, seem to agree with Kumar on some counts.
A proposal for providing power to homes was sent to the Centre in 2013. A year after the plan was cleared, local power distributor -- Dakshinanchal Vidyut Vitaran Nigam Ltd (DVVNL) Agra -- confirmed in February 2015 that Nagla Fatela was still waiting for electricity.
Seven months later, DVVNL Agra reported that infrastructure – transformers, poles and wires -- was in place and village electrified, the press release said.
Around 150 villagers laid cables on their own and connected them to the transformer powering the tubewells, Kumar said.
Mohd Tahir Khan, 22, a ration dealer, said the village has had power even before he was born.
Farmer Babu Singh Kushwaha has electricity at home for eight years now – he laid a 200-metre power cable and connected it to the tubewell supply.
“There is no supply from line drawn through poles which were installed about seven months ago. We pay Rs 250 per month at the power corporation’s office in Sasni and have connections in our name,” he said.
As many as 175 houses were powerless, said Ramkali. “We have not even seen electricity nor do we have connections in our house. The tubewell owners are not giving us light,” the said 65-year-old said.
“...Nagla Fatela village that he (PM) mentions in his speech was electrified long back and people are consuming power through legal and well-recorded connections,” DVVNL managing director Satyavir Singh Rathore said.
The lines set up under RGGVY “have also been charged”, he said.
UPPCL says 121 connections are legal and 150 illegal, he said.
“These 146 villagers (25 of them from nearby Nagla Jehru) get electricity through a cable drawn from a tubewell. They have connections sanctioned in their name. Some of them are paying bills regularly. Others are defaulters for non-payment,” UPPCL’s chief engineer at Aligarh BS Gangawar said.
Both connections -- for tubewell and households – were from same feeder but poles were being laid to separate the domestic supply, he said.
According to area’s executive engineer, Mahesh Prasad, who rushed with a team to the village, said Nagla Fatela got power in 1985. But, he gives a different set of numbers.
“At present, 119 of the total 600 households have valid connections and pay their monthly bills as per the tariff decided for rural domestic consumers. Besides, there are 19 private tubewell connections,” he said.
Local member of Parliament Rajesh Diwakar, who comes from Modi’s BJP, said the village was not electrified earlier. “I do not know as to where the villagers were getting electricity from. But the village was electrified only recently under the RGGVY and it was only after the PM’s speech that officials rushed to the village and charged the transformers and started power lines,” he said.
In the middle of the confusion, there is some respite for the villagers – they will soon get power through proper channels.
The UPPCL officials are working overtime to power the lines for domestic consumers.
(with inputs from Pradeep Saxena in Aligarh)