The Odisha government has launched electrification work in a portion of Uparbeda, the ancestral village of NDA presidential candidate, Droupadi Murmu, in Mayurbhanj district, after reports of people there living in the dark came to the fore.
However, Murmu does not live in the village now. She had shifted to Rairangpur, a municipal town around 20 kms away from Uparbeda in Kusumi block, decades ago.
The Uparbeda village in Kusumi block, with a population of 3,500, has two hamlets Badasahi and Dungursahi. While Badasahi hamlet is fully electrified, Dungursahi has only 14 households which are yet to get electricity.
A settlement of about 20 families who reside in Dungursahi have not got any electricity connection till date and depend on kerosene lamps to survive in the dark. The local people have to go to the other village which is a kilometer away to charge their mobile phones.
Murmu’s nephew Biranchi Narayan Tudu lives at Dungursahi hamlet along with his wife and two children.
“We had requested many people to provide electricity to our Dungursahi hamlet. However, no one paid any heed,” Biranchi’s wife told reporters.
She said that they have not brought the matter to the notice of Murmu though she visits the village during festivals.
However, following the outrage by the local people, the state government has started the work of installing electric poles and transformers on a war footing in the tribal-dominated area and village of Murmu.
Officials and workers of the Tata Power North Odisha Distribution Limited (TPNODL) went to Uparbeda with earth digging machines, electric poles and transformers to ensure supply of electricity to the portion where it is yet to reach.
The official, who did not want to be named, said that Dungursahi was not electrified as the houses there were constructed on forest land.
“We have no intention of keeping the villagers in the dark, but it was so due to lack of certain official clearance,” the official said.
Dhanmani Baskey, a panchayat samiti member of Dunguri sahi village of the district, said that they had applied for electricity connection to District collector Vineet Bharadwaj before the BJP had announced Murmu as their presidential candidate.
Talking to the media, Bharadwaj said administrative work was being done in this regard. “It is expected that the villagers will soon get an electricity connection.”
Official sources said that there are 500 villages with no formal roads and 1350 villages with no electricity in Mayurbhanj district.