Have you heard of Jodikatta ???

December 11, 2010 at 9:43 AM Leave a comment

When someone mentioned that in a village in India some people did not have bath almost three months due to lack of electricity and water, obviously the news was shocking.  As most of the time the media and the government almost convinces us that GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is god and the country is “actually” in the verge of being a “SUPERPOWER” by 2020.

While internationally, India boasts of being the land of villages modeled after the Gandhian principles of Swarajya or little democratic republic, it’s over half a century since a sustainable development has taken place in rural India that has improved the living conditions of its people.

Of several neglected villages in the country, stands this tiny village Jodikatta (Veerapura) in the midst of forest at Mundgod taluk in North Karnataka, housing approximately about 56 to 58 families. Let alone the name of this village appearing in “GOOGLE”, the entire village does not have electricity since September 2010 after a technical breakdown & not most of us knew about it.

The Hubli Electric Supply Company, HESCOM, on the other hand says that the faulty transformer was not repaired by the department as some villagers had outstanding electricity due of Rs. 87000 electricity bill. With an average income ranging from Rs. 2000 to Rs. 3000 per annum these villagers could either support their livelihood or pay the electricity bill.

However it is quite ridiculous action by the HESCOM to penalize the entire village for the payment arrears by the few individual households; the village loomed in darkness with neither a street lights nor water pumps to irrigate the fields.

Interestingly like many other over enthused ministry, the one with the electrical portfolio decided to list   Jodikatta under Bhagya Jyothi scheme in 2008, which guaranteed free electricity to the economically poor to avail public utility service such as street light, low powered water pumps for agriculture irrigation. However for reasons best known to HESCOM, this scheme was withdrawn from this village in 2009. According to Vital Beeru Kolegar “We don’t know why this service is discontinued, though we have repeatedly complained that in the absence of electricity we cannot water our fields, then the crops either fails to yield or gets destroyed.”

Laxman who owns a small tea stall says “there are only two wells to cater to water requirements of the entire village and a single pond to bathe approximately 2000 cattle’s in the village.”

Meanwhile in spite of repeated plea both from the villagers and the civil society in the area, the HESCOM turned deaf ears to the request of sending a maintenance team to rectify the problem in the transformer. Paresh Kumar, a traveler who stayed in this country side says “for months the people said that they did not have bath, can you believe that? I could daily see some 20 odd small school children aged between 10 to 12 pitiably walking a distance of 500 meters to fetch water” he adds “In the absence of electricity almost every day these kids strained their eyes to study for examination under fire lamps.”

The village lacks basic utility services such as public transport, newspaper & media, water taps and the nearest healthcare facility that is approximately 10 kilometers away. While chatting with the villagers it was realized that they lacked general awareness and were either misinformed, clueless of several schemes available to their relief.

Jaanu Beeru Yedige a farmer in Veerapur village says “the government does not seem to pay much heed to any of our owes, earlier we had complained of the elephant herds destroying our crops, but since the ownership title of the land is not transferred by the government in our name, the forest department won’t give us any compensation, though we have been cultivating in this land since 1968” he adds saying “we can’t even borrow credit against these lands to improve produce or to store them, though we have been cultivating the same since 1968”

The office of the section forest range officer at Kathur, Pale maintains that they are helpless to reimburse the losses to the grieved farmers as the government still holds the actual property.

For some of us it may be difficult just to imagine carrying our lives without electricity even for couple of hours let alone three months. But for the invisible village like Jodikatta this is their story of daily survival. A district official was confronted with the facts related to this village for which he callously replied saying “this is a state of affair in very village, why do you want to highlight this particular issue” to make it more political he added “what is your motive?”

Off late in the early December due to the intervention by some civil society organization that appealed the government and HESCOM to stop acting insensitively to people living in villages like Jodikatta and to provide them with immediate relief, the transformer was rectified on December 5th 2010.

While problems of this small village like Jodikatta, maybe be heard time and again by some of us. These villages are those weakest links of the country that have to be strengthened in order to at least call ourselves a stable nation if be a superpower.

It is also not surprising but sad to see that while the functioning of the government is characterized by a snail phase even the news media has lost its place as the 4th estate or the watch dog of the society.

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The Disturbing Silence…. What about your future ?

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