Tribal villages back to kerosene lamps as solar panels go kaput

Agency residents want their hamlets to be supplied with the regular hydropower

Published: 14th August 2016 03:59 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th August 2016 03:59 AM   |  A+A-

VISAKHAPATNAM: Even as the government is highly investing on solar power in the tribal habitations in the Visakha Agency, residents of several villages- Darakonda, A.Darakonda, Galikonda, GK Veedhi, Pedavalasa, Devarapalle, Vanchula and Jerrela of GK Veedhi mandal-are demanding the authorieis to remove the solar power equipment and supply the regular hydro-power, alleging that the solar system set up in their villages are frequently failing.

Crores of rupees invested by Eastern Power Distribution Company Limited have become dead capital now with the non-functioning of the solar power project. As many as 40 tribal villages in GK Veedhi, Chintapalle and Munchingput mandals are back to dark nights.

Darakonda, A Darakonda, Galikonda, GK Veedhi, Pedavalasa, Devarapalle, Panchula,  Jerrela and many more villages had no power supply till 2013. Similarly, several villages in Munchingput and Chintapalle mandals have also been in the dark as there is no chance of supplying power. In 2012, a study report which said that with the help of solar project, electricity could be provided to the hamlets which have been deprived of it for the last six decades was submitted.

The EPDCL took the initiative to set up solar power projects in five packages at various locations and called for tenders under the BOMT (built, operate, maintain and transfer) mode. The EPDCL funded for the equipment and set up solar power panels. 

“With great hope, we cooperated to the contractors. We never asked for labour charges which they did not pay. The solar panels do not work owing to heavy rain and fog for around eight months a year. Even before completion of the five-year guarantee period, the panels have got damaged. We have lodged complaints several times but there is no response,” said M Sandhya Kumari, sarpanch of A Darakonda.

During the past two years, the EPDCL has erected power poles and supply power from Sileru project. As solar panels have gone kaput, tribals are now demanding supply of hydropower.

“The material the contractors have used for solar power system have been badly damaged. There is a possibility to erect electricity poles to supply power to the villages. Meanwhile, even after three years, the contractor did not pay labour charges to the tribals who shifted the solar power material manually for 15 km,” said G Satyanarayana and A Bujjibabu of GK Veedhi.

Tribals from all villages led by CPM district secretary K Loknatham have met EPDCL director (Operations and Projects) Seshu Kumar, and urged him to take immediate action.

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