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Pradeep Singh

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had in January 2018 asked officials to complete electrification of all villages in the state by the same year. It was then said that about 28 lakh households would get power by October 2, 2018. Then, it was also claimed that of the total 47,677 villages in the state, only 22 villages didn't have electricity connections.

So, has those 22 villages got the 'power'? The ground reality doesn't suggest so. Besides, it's already more than 4 years now since the announcement of the CM, but several villages in Odisha are still fighting the darkness as if it has not only left their villages in dark but also their lives.

A case in point is the Simijhiri village under Phiringia block of Kandhamal district. As the sun sets, laltens become the only source for the children in this village to continue their studies even though emissions from these laltens or kerosene lamps have an adverse impact on their health.

Simijhiri is home to more than 100 families, but basic amenities in this village are still a distant dream. Around 2 years ago, solar lights were installed in the village but they are now in defunct condition. 

"The solar lights provided here are not working. We are studying by lighting dipa (kerosene lamp) and laltens due to which we have to face a lot of problems," said a student and resident of the village, Nalini Kahnr.

Another resident of the village Dayanidhi Kahnr said, "Our village doesn't have electricity connection. We are facing several problems, especially during summer. Students are also facing issues in their studies at night."

However, Phiringia BDO Rashmi Ranjan Mahanta claimed that efforts are on for the electrification of the village and the concerned company will be asked to look into the functioning of the solar lights in the village.

"Simijhiri was left behind as a backward area but we recently connected the village with roads. We had talks with the electricity department, and works are now underway to provide permanent electricity connection to the village, and it will be completed soon," said Mahanta.

On the other hand, TPSODL executive engineer Manoj Mohanty said that a DPR on the villages without electricity connection has already been made and submitted for further progress.

"We had carried out a complete survey of the villages in remote areas. We found that 6201 households in 850 habitations were deprived of power. Subsequently, a DPR was prepared and submitted to the state government," said Mohanty.

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