Himansu Shekhar Rout

Just a few hours are left for the Annual High School Certificate (HSC) examinations. At the time of examinations, anyone will be shocked to see a sorry sight at Thelkochhpal slum of B Karuabahal panchayat under Balishankara block in Sundargarh district. 

Contrary to the state government’s claim on the reformation in the energy sector, tribal students including those of Class-X have been struggling to prepare for the exams under the light of oil lamps in the absence of electricity for the last three months.

Students have no other way but to prepare for the crucial examinations under the dim light of oil lamps.             

According to local residents, an electric transformer that used to supply power to the slum went out of order in December 2023. Since then, the defunct transformer has not been replaced with a new one. 

Though the residents have been frequenting the office of the power distribution company TPWODL near the Collectorate, the new transformer has not been installed.   

Over 200 families living in the slum have been negotiating with the darkness by making use of candles and oil lamps.

Initially, they used candles, but later stopped their use because it was expensive for them. They found the oil lamp cheaper.   

Amkita, a student preparing for the HSC exam, is upset over the absence of electricity in the area. She said, ”Teachers are giving me homework, but I fail to do it at night. It is difficult to do in the dim light of oil lamps. The transformer has gone out of order and nobody is listening to our plight. Exams will start from tomorrow.”

Another student Sobha also lamented about the situation. “By lighting candles and oil lamps, we have to study at night. We are too broke to afford candles every day. The exam is coming and the light has gone out,” she rued.

Liladhar Kale, a resident said, ”The people are living in the dark as the electricity has been disrupted for the last three months. Though the people have pleaded with the Tata Power officials about their problem, the latter is not settling the issue. Students are unable to prepare for the exams”   

Junior Engineer of Ujjwalpur power grid, Satyananda Sahu said, ”The issue will be sorted out soon. Consumers will not have to pay power charges.”

Report by Debabrata Jena