It’s like living in the 16th century era for 39 families in three villages of Kullu district. Even as Himachal Pradesh takes credit, almost nationally, to have achieved 100% electrification but story of three villages, located in the vicinity of Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP), is an eye opener.
Significantly, the GHNP has already been declared as UNESCO world heritage site and state’s wildlife department claims that all rights (basic facilities for living) of the families living in the park area or in its vicinity have been protected.
In the state assembly ,when Congress MLA and former minister Karan Singh tabled a question to know if it’s a fact that families in three villages – Maror, Shakti and Shagroor are living without electricity, the government could not deny the reality.
Power Minister Sujan Singh was questioned by Maheshwar Singh, Kullu MLA, over why the families are living in darkness despite a project to electrify these villages was approved five years back in 2010 under the Rajiv Gandhi Rural Electrification programme.
The project had started in time to lay electric lines and install poles, but state’s Forest Department raised objections asking the HPSEBL to first obtain necessary approvals under the Forest laws.
“The project involved lying of 19 km 11 KV lines through dense forests,which will take minimum two years to complete. This not only involves huge expenditure and challenges, not because this being a forested valley but also snow-affected areas,” Pathania informed.
He instead offered to set up a solar sub-station to electrify the villages as the project on electrification of the families have lot of impracticalities. Nearly 78 solar lights were provided to the families in 2011.
Maheshwar Singh, a veteran political figure from Kullu, who had also represented the area member of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha earlier, beside as an MLA, protested over the government’s apathy towards the villagers living a 16th century life and have no access to drinking water, road and electricity.
“This is a joke. When you can’t get proper sun light in that area,miles away from the habitations, how can they get facility of solar lights. You need to respond to the issues of urgent public importance as the notification on declaring GHNP as world heritage site provides that rights of the families will be protected,” Maheshwar Singh informed.
The minister later agreed that he will take-up the matter with forest minister Thakur Singh Bharmouri and try to resolve the issue of Forest clearance so that the villagers can light at end of the day.