Andhra Pradesh: Tribal hamlets in ASR struggle without electricity

These tribal communities rely on torches made from wooden sticks at night. These torches are essential for their safety and daily activities amidst the presence of snakes and wild animals.
Tribals of Buruga and Chinna Konela villages held a protest and walked for two kilometres in the dark with torches made from wooden sticks, urging officials to respond to their pleas.
Tribals of Buruga and Chinna Konela villages held a protest and walked for two kilometres in the dark with torches made from wooden sticks, urging officials to respond to their pleas.Photo | Express

VISAKHAPATNAM: Life comes to a standstill as dusk falls in some remote villages of the Alluri Sitarama Raju district. Basic amenities like electricity remain a distant dream in the remote villages of Buruga, Chinna Konela, Rayapadu, Bogija, and Benejinvalsa, inhabited by the Konda Dora Tega tribes, leaving residents grappling with daily challenges once the sun sets.

On Tuesday night, the tribals of Buruga and Chinna Konela villages held a protest and walked for two kilometres in the dark with torches made from wooden sticks, urging officials to respond to their pleas.

These tribal communities rely on torches made from wooden sticks at night. These torches are essential for their safety and daily activities amidst the presence of snakes and wild animals. With tribals dependent on MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) work and daily wage labour at brick kilns, the absence of electricity forces them to wrap up their tasks before dusk.

It may be pointed out that the Central government, in 2018, had declared that every village in the country has access to electricity. However, there are still several parts of the country that are yet to be connected to the grid.

"Children struggle to play or study after sunset, while the elderly find it difficult to move around safely. Women try to complete household chores during the day, while men return from work before dusk, fearing the dangers of navigating through the darkness," lamented Ramulamma from Buruga village.

Recently, in Buruga village, families faced loss when a tiger killed their cattle. They are yet to receive the compensation, despite the Forest Department being notified.

In Rayapadu village, tragically, a man was bit by a snake while he was asleep outside his house. He succumbed to a snakebite due to challenges in accessing timely medical care.

Tribals of Buruga and Chinna Konela villages held a protest and walked for two kilometres in the dark with torches made from wooden sticks, urging officials to respond to their pleas.
Four hilltop villages in Alluri Sitarama Raju district lack basic education & med services

The villagers' plight goes beyond mere inconvenience. It affects their fundamental needs for safety, access to clean water, and mobility during emergencies.

Highlighting the struggle for safe drinking water, Ramulamma said, "Due to a lack of a reliable water supply, we are forced to fetch water from unsafe streams, leading to health issues. When the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Department appealed for tap water connections, the lack of electricity prevented the installation of tap water systems. Our demand for electricity is not driven by luxury or entertainment, but by basic needs for survival. We need electricity to stay safe at night, access fresh drinking water, and commute during emergencies."

Kothamma from Chinna Konela village pointed at the incomplete efforts towards electrification, with only partial installation of approved electricity poles along a critical 13-kilometre stretch from Boddavalasa to Buruga village. "Out of 130 sanctioned poles, a mere 68 have been installed, covering three kilometres. If they finish works in the remaining 10 kilometres, all our villages will be electrified," she stated.

Residents appealed to authorities, including the APEPDCL CMD, district collector, and Paderu ITDA Project Officer, to visit their villages, witness firsthand the challenges they face, and expedite the completion of essential infrastructure project.

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