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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Villages get electricity after 63 years of independence in Villupuram

VILLUPURAM: V Ajith, a sixth standard student can now study late into the night, his mother V Palaniammal can prepare dinner for the family without any hassles while his father K Velli can reach home safely after grazing cattle. All this is possible because Gundiyanatham, one of the 27 tribal hamlets in Kalrayan Hills in Villupuram district, has finally received electricity after a long wait of 63 years.

Kalrayan Hills, which has a population of 50,000, consists of 15 villages where 172 tribal hamlets are located. About 145 of these hamlets have electricity while the rest of the hamlets (27 in all) were recently given electrical power under the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana at a cost of Rs.1.2 crores.

"There are 978 houses in these hamlets with a population of 4,039 persons. The Tamil Nadu Electricity Board officials meticulously executed the task of extending the high tension line to an extent of 70 kms and the low tension line for another 20 kms, to reach the hamlets," district collector Dr R Palanisamy told The Times of India.

The board extended power connections to 600 homes categorised as huts where power for a single bulb and television is provided. The rest of the homes have been provided with metered service connections.

"We installed 30 transformers in the region and erected 1,800 electric poles in a short span of 5 months to extend electrical connections to these 27 hamlets. Some of these hamlets can be reached only by foot. Except Manapachi hamlet where only 5 members live, all the hamlets in the region have been provided with power connections.

The board is awaiting clearance from the forest department to lay a 3-km HT line to the village. The option of relocating the 5 people living in Manapachi without electricity is also not ruled out," TNEB executive engineer (Kallakuruchi division) F Amalorphavanathan said.

TNEB superintending engineer (Villupuram circle) M Nowshath has recommended Amalorphavanathan, assistant executive engineer (Kallakuruchi division), M Ganesan and junior engineer (Kallakuruchi division) K Azhagan for the Prime Minister Award for Excellence in Public Administration for successfully executing a complex project.

The tribals were doubly delighted when the district administration included them under the free colour television scheme after TNEB extended power connections to all the hamlets.

"It is very difficult to cook after sunset with the meagre light of a kerosene lamp. The visibility is so poor that it is difficult to spot poisonous insects while cooking. Now, this single light bulb has made a huge difference," D Govindammal, who makes a living by rearing pigs, said.

Despite these new facilities Vijayakumar, who has metered service, has a couple of worries. "I am little worried about the power bills. The people here need to travel at least 70 km to pay the bills. TNEB must make arrangements to establish an office in Veeralimalai, which is on an average 30 km from most of the hamlets and is frequented by the tribals to meet their day to day requirements," said Vijayakumar.

Officials say rural electrification in Tamil Nadu is almost complete, except for a few habitations in forest and hill areas.

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