DEEPAK NIMBLE (32) no longer has to wait till he reaches his office to charge his mobile phone. Nimble is a resident of Naushacha Pada in Aarey Colony. For more than 70 years, the village didn’t have electricity. Not any longer. It got electricity connection for the first time on Sunday.
The village, where till now students studied under kerosene lamps, received an NOC last month from a veterinary college which owns the land parcel on which the village is located, ending years of deadlock. However, the final hurdle in the way of getting funding for the electricity supply was cleared after a Mumbai resident chipped in with nearly Rs 2 lakh.
Naushacha Pada is located in Aarey forest area and houses 60-65 tribal families comprising of nearly 250 people. Adivasi Hakk Sanvardhan Samiti, a union fighting for Adivasi rights, said that the village was there before the formation of Aarey in 1951. Santosh Ahadi, who is part of an Adivasi union, told The Indian Express that their union had been fighting for electricity supply to the village since 2009. To get electricity, the tribals needed an NOC from the Mumbai Veterinary College, which was received on June 3.
Prakash Bhoir, a member of the Adivasi Hakk Sanvardhan Samiti, said that on May 28, union members and tribal families protested against the veterinary college authorities. “We wrote a letter to the veterinary college saying that if they don’t grant the NOC, then the families would file a case against the college under the Atrocities Act,” Bhoir said. The tribal families believe that it was this letter that did the trick and the college agreed to provide the NOC. Ahadi said that after getting the NOC last Sunday, they got the connection.
However, even after the NOC, every family needed Rs 7,000 for meter connections. A resident of Mumbai, who read about their plight in media reports, approached the union and volunteered to pay Rs 1.9 lakh. When contacted by The Indian Express, the resident said that he would prefer to remain anonymous. “I was moved by their condition and thought I would do my bit for them,” he said.
His contribution helped secure electricity connection to 27 houses while 10 other families managed to get connections on their own. So far, out of 65 families in Naushacha Pada 37 families have got electricity connections.
Rakesh Sitaram Sighvan (40), one of the families to get an electricity connection, said, “I was born in Naushacha Pada and my childhood was spent in darkness. Now our village has electricity and children will benefit most from this.” Rakesh has four daughters. “Earlier during exams they would study under kerosene lamps but now they don’t have to suffer anymore.”