Mrunal Manmay Dash

More than seven decades have passed since India gained independence, but there are two villages in Odisha’s mineral-rich district Sundargarh—Kalamanga and Batudhi under Koida block, which are still languishing in darkness due to the absence of electricity.

Looking at these villages, one can easily fathom the neglect these villagers have been subjected to all these years.

“We do not have electricity here. The water supply is so poor that we are forced to drink water from a nearby stream. The situation gets dire in the monsoon when the stream water gets dirty with mud. I don’t know why we are not getting electricity even after so many years,” rued a resident of Batudhi village Nilima Gudia.

The neglect has triggered resentment among the villagers who have threatened to boycott the election if they continue to get neglected by the State government.

Sarpanch of Dengula Panchayat, Babuli Munda said, “Despite our repeated complaints, there is no electricity and water supply in our panchayat. We will stage a protest in front of the Panchayat office gate and boycott the upcoming elections if our demands are not met within seven days.”

It is pertinent to mention here that the district of Sundargarh is among the few districts of Odisha enriched with mines and minerals and the State government and the Union government is getting rich revenues from the mining leases.

Sundargarh district also has a District Mineral Foundation (DMF) which is a trust, set up as non-profit body in the districts of Odisha, to work for the interest and benefit of persons and areas affected by mining-related operations. It is funded through contributions from miners.