Hamlet in Anamalai Tiger Reserve to get power supply for first time

A few years back, solar panels were provided to about 24 households to power lights, but due to improper maintenance and lack of battery replacement, many people still live in darkness.
A view of Erumaiparai hamlet | Express
A view of Erumaiparai hamlet | Express

CHENNAI:  A total of 34 tribal families from Erumaiparai hamlet in Anamalai Tiger Reserve (ATR) would soon get domestic connections for regular power supply.  The State Board for Wildlife (SBWL), which will be meeting on Tuesday, would recommend the project and forward it to the National Board for Wildlife. 

According to sources, Erumaiparai is the closest tribal village to Topslip in the Pollachi division of ATR. Though a transmission line passes adjacent to the tribal hamlet, the 34 houses in Erumaiparai were deprived of electricity for decades. A few years back, solar panels were provided to about 24 households to power lights, but due to improper maintenance and lack of battery replacement, many people still live in darkness.

Villagers alleged that there is no solar power in the hamlet during the rainy season. “Our children are forced to study under kerosene lamps,” they told TNIE. In the past, the forest officials tried to provide electricity to the hamlet but had to drop the idea since only insulated cables or underground cables can be laid inside protected areas as per the National Board for Wildlife guidelines. The TANGEDCO refused to do it owing to cost. 

ATR Deputy Director K Bhargava Teja told TNIE that all the hurdles have been cleared now and TANGEDCO has agreed to lay insulated cables. He said that replacing all the existing high-tension power lines with insulated lines will be very expensive and the forest department is taking necessary steps to ensure there are no low-sagging power lines in the tiger reserve.  

As per the SBWL agenda notes, the Office of Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Wildlife Warden has recommended the proposal subject to certain conditions. During the course of the project work, all the materials required for the work should be prepared outside the tiger reserve, no fireplaces should be created inside the reserve, the work will be allowed only in the daytime from 9 am to 5 pm and no night camping by labour/survey personnel will be allowed inside the tiger reserve. Sources said that none of the 18 tribal hamlets in ATR have a regular power supply.

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