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Celebrating 25 years of darkness

Come Sunday and villagers of Kanugaon in eastern Assam’s Golaghat district will mark a special event — a silver jubilee of living in darkness.

india Updated: Feb 13, 2010 01:20 IST
Rahul Karmakar

Come Sunday and villagers of Kanugaon in eastern Assam’s Golaghat district will mark a special event — a silver jubilee of living in darkness.

The village has had no power despite having 22 electric poles since 1985.

Special invitations for the event have been sent to officials of the Assam State Electricity Board (ASEB) in the district headquarters at Golaghat, 12 km southeast of the village, for denying them electricity for so many years.

The Bijuli Khuta Poota Rupali Jayanti Udjapon Samity (Committee to Mark the Silver Jubilee of Erection of Electric Posts) has organised a cultural show to celebrate the occasion. They have also planned a satirical eulogy for the ASEB officials, who have refused to even check the electric poles, despite several pleas from the long-suffering villagers.

“According to them, Kanugaon has been declared electrified on paper. Since anger and frustration has proved to be futile, we have invited them to join in the fun for doing nothing,” village youth leader Tankeswar Das told Hindustan Times on Friday. Das is also a member of the committee.

Kanugaon is situated on the bank of river Kokodunga that runs along the border between Golaghat and Jorhat districts. It has 60 households.

The villagers were particularly disappointed when the Assam government awarded a computer each for two of its students for academic excellence in 2005. For Saurabh Handique and Lakhimi Sarma, the computers are nothing but showpieces.

The villagers also accuse the government of unjust treatment because an adjoining tea estate has been electrified. “We pay Rs 5 to the estate owners every time we charge our mobile phones,” Das said.

The state has adopted the Rajiv Gandhi Rural Electrification Programme, but several villages still remain in darkness.

Assam Power Minister Pradyut Bordoloi said, “At least 26,000 revenue or census villages are in various stages of electrification, and our execution of the scheme has been praiseworthy. We’ll have to find out if this village (Kanugaon) is a revenue village or not.”