A short journey from Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in his Independence Day address, there is a village in Hathras called Nagla Fatela. “It takes only three hours to reach Nagla Fatela. But it took 70 years for electricity to reach there.”
On the ground, in the village, however, this statement came as a surprise to residents, many of whom have been living without electricity.
The village has about 600 homes — 450 without power. The 150-odd homes that do get electricity rely on illegal ‘katia’ connections: they have connected their homes to a transformer meant to run 22 tubewells, and, in return, pay Rs 395 for two months to the Dakshinanchal Vidyut Vitran Nigam Limited (DVVNL), village pradhan Yogesh Kumar told The Indian Express.
“Perhaps, the Prime Minister hasn’t been made aware of the condition of our village,” said Ullanoor Usmani, a resident.
Nagla Fatela, about 300 km from New Delhi, has a population of 3,500, with about 900 registered voters. It is one of the 10,045 villages where infrastructure was provided under the Prime Minister’s rural electrification drive. According to the Ministry of Power, complete electrification of 18,475 villages will be done by May 2017.
“It’s true that the government made arrangements for electrification of our village under the Deen Dayal Upadhyay Gram Jyoti Yojana. We got poles, wires and meters but power supply remains a distant dream for us,” said pradhan Kumar.
Photos shared by the Prime Minister’s Office showing villagers watching TV on Independence Day also surprised locals. “These pictures are not of our village. The one with balloons seems to be of Nagla Sindhi, another village in Hathras which was electrified under a similar scheme,” said Devendra Singh, former pradhan of Nagla Fatela.
When contacted, V S Gangwar, Chief Engineer at DVVNL’s Aligarh division, said the village was electrified many years ago, but only through ‘katia’ connections.
“Around 150 houses have power since 1985 through the transformer meant for tubewells. We generate an electricity bill for these consumers,” said Gangwar.
Sub-divisional officer of the local power sub-station, Kayam Singh, said the power department has not been able to provide electricity to the village as they need a no-objection certificate from a private company that placed poles and wires in the village to provide power. “The private firm is yet to provide the NoC,” said Singh.
After the PM mentioned Nagla Fatela in his speech, officials of the power department, including SDO Singh, rushed to the village to check the status.
District Magistrate, Hathras, A K Singh said a team of officials had been sent to the village to verify which power connections were legal. Those using ‘katia’ will be punished, he said.
Meanwhile, the PIB today issued a clarification titled ‘Electrification of village Nagla Fatela, Hathras — facts at a glance’. It read: “Electrification of said village was proposed by the UP government under 12th plan of Deen Dayal Upadhyay Gram Jyoti Yojana and the Detailed Project Report (DPR) was submitted through a state-level steering committee, headed by the chief secretary of the state on 13.11.2013. For this village, the DPR proposed connections to all households, including creation of infrastructure…”
“The DPR was sanctioned by government of India on 20.12.2013 and sanction letter was released by Rural Electrification Corporation (REC) on 06.01.2014… The DISCOM (DVVNL Agra) confirmed on 26.02.2015 that village Nagla Fatela is still un-electrified,” it further stated.
“DVVNL Agra reported in October 2015 that infrastructure work for electrification of the village Nagla Fatela has been completed and the village has been electrified. Accordingly, the village has been shown as electrified in the GARV App by REC,” read the PIB communique.
Asked about the PIB clarification, Gangwar said, “We did not send any such information about electrification of Nagla Fatela village to the central government.”