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Friday, Nov 22, 2019

This tribal hamlet at Aarey may get electricity for first time since Independence

Residents of Naushachapada have not applied for community forest rights under the Forest Rights Act

mumbai Updated: Jun 04, 2019 00:52 IST
Yesha Kotak
Yesha Kotak
Hindustan Times
Adivasis of Nausachapada celebrate after getting NOC from Bombay Veterinary College.
Adivasis of Nausachapada celebrate after getting NOC from Bombay Veterinary College.(HT Photo)
         

The gleaming streetlights of the western express highway are just a stone’s throw from Naushachapada, one of the 27 tribal settlements in Aarey Colony. However, if you want light in this hamlet after darkness falls, you rely on oil lamps because no electric connections have ever been laid in Naushachapada.

Now, though, the settlement is poised for change. On Monday morning, the Bombay Veterinary College (BVC) – Naushachapada comes under its jurisdiction – finally issued a no objection letter that will let locals get an electricity connection.

The letter, a copy of which is with HT, says the BVC held a meeting on June 1 where it was decided that electricity would be provided to the hamlet. The approval for electricity for Naushachapada was raised in Mantralaya in 1995 and previous applications by the locals have not received any response from the college, whose headquarters are in Nagpur. “This was long overdue, but the permission was received recently,” said a BVC official.

Naushachapada is the only tribal settlement in Aarey Colony without either electricity or water connections. “The letter only validates that we are human beings,” said tribal leader Prakash Bhoir. “Though this hamlet is older than the college, everyone minus the residents has electricity,” he said.

“We’ve had to sleep without a fan even in the heat, and were always worried that if our children play in the dark, some animal would attack them. I hope the procedure is now completed quickly,” said Mathura Sadhe, a resident of the pada.

Village head Rakesh Shigvan, said, “Our ancestors never had these connections, but they were self-sufficient because of natural sources such as wells. After Independence, however, various authorities took over and used the lakes and water bodies around for commercial purposes.”

Residents of Naushachapada have not applied for community forest rights under the Forest Rights Act, which recognises the claims of those traditional forest dwellers whose rights have not been recorded.

“Only when they apply would they get rights over individual land as well as community land,” said Amrita Bhattacharjee, member of Aarey Conservation Group.

The next challenge for Naushachapada is to ensure the electricity connection is actually laid. Adani Electricity Mumbai Limited (AEML) said it had received a request from Naushachapada residents. “Once we get all the required approvals from concerned authorities of veterinary college, we will release the new connections,” said the spokesperson.