Sunset brings health services in Jharkhand’s hinterland to a standstill as around 80% of health centres in villages and hamlets in the pre-dominantly tribal state suffer from acute power shortage or virtually no electric supply.
There is one health sub-centre (HSC) for every six villages catering to nearly 420 families in Jharkhand. There in all 4575 health centres in Jharkhand, of which around 80 %—3,958 HSC—do not have power backups.
Reema Oraon, 36, a resident of Puto village in Gumla district, suffered from stomach ache on Monday evening. The local health center was a stone’s throw away from her home, but she had to be taken to the district hospital, around 65 kilometres away as the one near her home has no power supply after sunset.
“Doctors at the district hospital said I had gastritis. They gave me two pills and I was fine within half an hour. Next morning, I found the same medicines available at the local health centre,” said Reena, who had to spend Rs 300 to hire a crop carrying auto to travel to the district hospital.
In January this year a health center in Kamdara, Gumla was ransacked by villagers after it was found closed at night.
National Health Mission (NHM), Jharkhand mission director Ashish Singhmar said, “Poor electricity is a big challenge as it is hindering round the clock health services in rural areas.” He added that plans to install solar panels at centres were dropped after massive thefts in 2007.
The department, in the upcoming fiscal, has chosen 75 health centres as model health centres that will become the first to have solar panels, said health officials, adding that of the three types of health centres — HSC, primary health centres (PHC) and community health centres (CHC), only the latter had generator sets.
Jharkhand principal secretary of the energy department, SKG Rahate, said: “We had a dialogue with the health department. They will give us detailed project report, we will prepare an estimate,” adding that it was feasible to give supply lines to all the 4,000-odd health centres.
According to the Access to Clean Cooking Energy and Electricity – Survey of States (ACCESS) in 2015, just 67% households in Jharkhand had access to electricity, while power lines reached 96% villages.
Just 19% households had four or more hours of power supply in the evening and just 2% had access to 20 hours of electricity, the survey said.