Stone’s throw from Lucknow,first ‘Diwali’ since Freedom

Chibau Khera of 120 houses gets electricity 66 years after India got Independence.

Written by Hamza Khan | Mohanlalganj | Published: April 30, 2013 2:04:12 am

Chibau Khera of 120 houses gets electricity 66 years after India got Independence.

Till Sunday,Chibau Khera,a village just 20 km from Lucknow in Mohanlalganj block,would have been fit for an R K Laxman illustration. But on Monday evening,66 years after Independence,a button was pressed and a few dozen houses glowed with electricity for the first time.

For the villagers,belonging mostly to the OBC communities of Yadavs or Kumhars,it was a mix of luck and persistence. The villagers openly accept that had it not been for the Yadavs-led Samajwadi Party government,they wouldn’t have got electricity.

Then it was the persistence of a handful of villagers that finally paid off,when they met MP Sushila Saroj last year in the state capital; she sent two junior engineers along to survey the village and financed the electrification with about Rs 10.55 lakh from her MP’s local area development fund.

Being one among a dozen villages belonging to Mau Gram Panchayat,Chibau Khera has about 120 houses. Since November last year,when the erecting of poles was initiated,the comparatively well-off families got their houses wired. About 40 poles have been erected throughout the village,connected to a 100 Kva transformer. Although most houses will be connected gradually,there are some who are still in two minds,too comfortable with their lifestyle.

Purtilal,68 years old and partially blind,has a rule by which he has lived his life. “Humse na kuch levat,na hum kuch devat (with me there is no giving,no taking),” he says,suspicious of what electricity will mean. His son,though,comes forward confidentially,repeating as if memorised: “We are very happy and we will get the connection in some time. We thank Mulayam Singh Yadav for giving us electricity.”

From most families,the chorus among the elders is that they have spent their lives in darkness,going to sleep at 8 pm; and now they are happy to see the village youth being able to utilise such a facility.

Ashish,a BCom student,lives in Lucknow on rent,along with his friends Santosh,Deepak and Mohit,all from the village and all pursuing graduation. With sincere looks,they say they want to do “something for the nation”. Looking at them lining up,a villager jokes that these young men will fetch more dowry now that their village has electricity. The atmosphere is festive.

“(During a trial) when the bulb lit up on Sunday evening,it was an overwhelming moment and I couldn’t stop my tears,” said Vijay Kumar,who most villagers credit with bringing electricity to the village.

“I wrote letters to the Chief Minister,Power Ministry and even the Prime Minister; I have been in touch with local MLAs over the years and either got ‘technical problems’ or hollow assurances in response,” he said. He was among those who pursued the matter of electrification with the MP.

Although the pursuit of electrification unified the villagers,the more important factor is politics: there was near unanimous support for the SP. On the piece of land where the preparations for electricity was formally inaugurated by the MP herself,there was a brief argument on the positioning of local SP faces on a hoarding.

Mohanlalganj MLA Chandra Rawat and other local SP leaders attended the inauguration,apart from Saroj. SP District General Secretary Shamsher Singh Yadav oversaw the preparations. Journalists,policemen,village elders all discussed the SP.

As darkness approached,the atmosphere got exciting. Saroj got an elder village woman to inaugurate the transformer,then praised Akhilesh,Mulayam and the SP; so did MLA Chandra Rawat. Saroj then proceeded inside a house and in a symbolic gesture,switched on a bulb. The crowd did not want to hide its happiness any more. Vijay Kumar summed it up as “Diwali”.

However,in the Mau Gram Panchayat,there are also Raja Khera and Sitam Khera villages and they are also dominated by OBC communities. While Chibau Khera celebrated,they were still in darkness. Why these villages have no electricity was not an immediate concern.

Santosh,son of Mau Gram Panchayat head Pradeep Kumar,played down the lack of electricity in the two villages and assured that they would be electrified “soon”. Today,he wanted to bask in the celebrations at Chibau Khera.

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