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It’s past 40 degree Celsius, and these villagers are living without electricity for seven months now

The local transformer was damaged by lightening but was never replaced or repaired.

kolkata Updated: May 20, 2017 16:17 IST
Koushik Dutta
Koushik Dutta
Hindustan Times
West Bengal,Electricity,Village
The mercury regularly touches 43-44 degree Celcius in these areas of West Midnapore and living for months without electricity has caused extreme hardships for the villagers. (HT Photo)

Spiders have started spinning webs in the electric fans in this village. During daytime the mercury climbs well past 40 degree Celsius but more than 1,000 residents of Karmashole village near Largarh can’t switch on the fans, nor can they switch on lights after dark.

The pump sets essential for irrigation in these parched lands can’t be operated either. The villagers have to visit the nearest village in Lalgarh about 5 km away to charge their phones.

Read: HT Special | Life on the periphery: In Morni, life without light

Life changed for the villagers seven months ago when the transformer was damaged by lightening. It has not been repaired since.

Karmashole is located at the heart of what was once a Maoist fortress. At a spot close to the village, in October 2010, rebel leader Kishenji released police officer Atindranath Dutta who was abducted and held in custody for a few days. ( HT Photo )

The villagers are tribals. Almost everybody is a daily wage earner. Locals said that the power department officials are not eager to repair, or replace, the transformer because most of them failed to clear their electricity dues. Locals also told HT that they informed the state-run utility officials that they are ready to pay their dues in instalments.

“I have narrated our problem to Amulya Maity, who looks after the power department of West Midnapore Zilla Parishad. I have also told him that villagers are ready to pay up in instalments. But the transformer needs to be replaced immediately as the suffering has peaked with the rising mercury,” Sanatan Mahato, a local gram panchayat member told HT.

Read: No electricity, no network, no money: Battered Tamil Nadu struggles post cyclone Vardah

“We requested the power department many times earlier, but they did not take any step,” Mahato alleged.

To add to the woes of the villagers, norwesters have not been frequent in these areas. To escape the heat, many villagers are leaving their homes frequently taking refuge under trees.

Maity admitted the hardships. “It’s a fact that the locals of the village are suffering without electricity. But there is this problem of outstanding bills. After the request of the villagers and the gram panchayat member, I have asked the power department officials to realize the arrears in instalments and replace the transformer. I hope the work will be done shortly,” Maity told HT.

Karmashole is about 150 km away from Kolkata is at the heart of what is famous as Jangalmahal in West Bengal, the forested area spread over the districts of West Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura where the writ of the Maoists ran. On a night of October 2010, at a spot close to this village Maoist leader Kishenji released police officer Atindranath Ghosh after he was abducted and held for three days by the rebels.

Ironically in this former red zone, there has been no agitation by the villagers despite the prolonged hardships.

Agriculture is suffering terribly as irrigation depends on pump sets here. All 300 households in the area are dependent on this transformer.

“Everyone in the village is suffering due to scorching heat, but the aged and the children are suffering more. The students can’t study after dark as they have to depend only on kerosene lamps,” said Dulki Mahato, a local.

“We are poor. Most of the people are daily wage earners. We never refused to pay bills. But we need some time to pay up,” she added.

First Published: May 20, 2017 16:07 IST