Woman ensures electricity in 33 houses of her village
According to 2006 Renewable Global Status Report, 400 million Indians live without electricity. A majority of them lives in the remote rural areas of the country, and is dependent on farming for livelihood.
Electricity enables rural farmers to mechanize their farming operations. Mechanized farming reduces farming costs and increases crop yield. Without the access to electricity, farmers have to use traditional farming practices that often result in low crop yield, and hence, low family income.
The Government of India has tried to provide electricity and water to all. The supply of these services has been irregular and inadequate at best.
Empowering villagers to ask for their rights and services is one of the priorities of Sehgal Foundation’s work. In December 2007, around 33 villagers from Dingerhedi village in Mewat, Haryana, applied for electric connections. As part of their applications, they submitted the deposits for new electricity connections. Over the next year-and-a-half, the department did not acknowledge applications or respond to them.
A villager heard of the matter and took actions to determine the reasons of the delay in installing electricity meters. Kamlesh, who attended Sehgal Foundation’s Good Rural Governance training, filed an RTI application. She filed the application at District Electricity Department (DED) to know about the status of applications and reason for the delay. RTI (Right to Information) application requires government officials to provide information within 30 days.
After a month of filing the RTI application, villagers received electric meters. The department set a deadline for installing the meters.
This gave hope to villagers but the time passed by and the department did not meet the deadline for installation of meters. Kamlesh contacted the DED again to find out the reason of the delay, but she did not receive any reply. Next, she took up the matter with the State Information Commission (SIC), Chandigarh.
The commission investigated the role of Sub Divisional Officer (SDO) handling the matter. It assured Kamlesh of an action against the officer in-charge.
Meanwhile, the villagers began receiving electric bills. As electricity meters were not installed, bills were not justified. Kamlesh filed another complaint, and this time, SDO ordered immediate installation of meters. The officials there assured her of the waiver of the bills sent to the villagers.
Villagers are appreciative of Kamlesh’s efforts to ensure electricity in their homes. The story shows that one empowered individual can transform the lives of many in a community.
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