For residents of Nuh’s Untka village, one perpetual worry remains in their minds as they go to sleep every night — whether their cattle will still be in the shed when they wake up in the morning. In the absence of any streetlights in the village, the area is enveloped in a blanket of darkness each evening, making it easy for “antisocial elements” to sneak into their compounds and make away with their cattle.
“Most families here are engaged either in farming or cattle rearing, or both. I have two buffaloes, but I am worried about these being stolen at night. Even one animal being taken means a loss of lakhs of rupees,” said Azeem Khan, a resident.
Aftab, another resident, added, “Apart from cattle theft, there are problems. Not everybody has kept their animals in the courtyard. Those who have built sheds away from their homes have to walk there in the dark if anything needs to be done at night.”
“Safety is not a problem here, but thefts are becoming increasingly common, as antisocial elements know they cannot be recognised or caught in the dark,” he added.
Unlike other villages in Nuh, where residents are still looking to the district administration to resolve these problems, Untka’s sarpanch has resolved to tackle the residents’ issues at his own expense. By the end of this month, sarpanch Haji Aatun Khan said he intends to install 10 solar lights in the village, erecting them atop residents’ homes to make maintenance easier.
“I want to resolve the streetlight problem permanently, but panchayat funds get used for other works, such as cleanliness; so I will bear the expenses of the lights. I am told they will cost between Rs 20,000 and 25,000 each, adding up to around Rs 2 lakh. The final prices still have to be determined,” said Khan.
“My children are earning for themselves, and my money is useless if it is just kept piled up while people in my village suffer. I could die tomorrow, and it is my work that will be remembered after me. I have always felt that winning an election is easy, but winning people’s hearts after gaining power is tough,” he added.
Apart from the 10 streetlights, NGO Donate an Hour (DoaR) will also be installing two solar lights in the village, bringing the total figure to 12.