Gaon Companion had reported about the protest for a new transformer, and the electricity department finally restored power to three villages in Unchahara tehsil, two months after the old transformer broke down.
For three days from September 5 to 7, from 10 am to 6 pm, residents of Atarbediya Kalan village in Dhaneh gram panchayat of Unchahara tehsil in Madhya Pradesh’s Satna district took turns to stand in the stop dam of the Jhiri river, submerged till their necks, as a form of protest. All to ask for restoration of power supply.
For two months now, three villages — Atarbediya Kalan, Madau and Umariya — with a combined population of about 1,500 people, were plunged in darkness after an electricity transformer broke down. A single transformer powers all these three villages, and despite repeated pleas, it had not been repaired or replaced, because of pending dues from villagers. All the villagers received were unfulfilled promises. And so, this protest.
Gaon Companion had reported about this on September 5 and 6, and a new transformer of 100 horsepower (HP) was installed on September 8, but the villagers want three separate transformers for the three villages.
Amit Gautam, a farmer from Atarbediya Kalan who took part in jal satyagraha, told Gaon Connection that the transformer burnt down two months ago. Villager Kedar Prasad Tiwari from the same village said the executive engineer of Maihar municipality had been informed of this, but he said “the transformer would be set right only after outstanding bills have been paid. So, for a few people’s arrears, all of us were harassed.”
As per data from Maihar division of Madhya Pradesh East Region Power Distribution Company, payment worth Rs 8 lakh is due from 50 consumers in Atarbediya Kalan village. The regulation provides for replacement of transformers on deposit of 10 per cent of the total bill of the 1,500 affected people or 50 per cent of the outstanding bill (Rs 4 lakh).
The villagers said they had given a petition to the executive engineer on September 4 seeking restoration of power. Gaon Connection made numerous efforts to speak to the concerned officer, but he did not respond.
Meanwhile, Rashtriya Kisan Mahasangh’s Subhash Pandey told Gaon Connection that the affected were underprivileged people and could not convince the wilful defaulters to pay up. Hence, they had decided on a jal satyagraha.
Finally, it was water that brought light to villagers’ lives.