People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


Vol. XXXVI

No. 28

July 15, 2012

THEOG, HIMACHAL PRADESH

 

SEBís Callousness Compounds Peasantsí Woes

 

IN Himachal Pradesh, the Theog unit of the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) and the Himachal Seb Utpadak Sangh (apple growers association) started on July 3 a 72 hours long dharna before the office of the chairman of State Electricity Board (SEB). The dharna was organised against the failure of the Electricity Board to solve the problems of the consumers under the Theog division of the Electricity Board.

 

The Kisan Sabha has stated the neo-liberal policies being pursued by the state government has resulted in a massive shortage of staff in the Electricity Board. It is shocking to learn that 12 out of the 16 posts of the junior engineers (JEs) under the Theog electricity division are lying vacant for a long time while in place of the ten posts of foremen (line), five are vacant. Many areas of Theog remain without power supply for days together once there is a breakdown of electricity.

 

The AIKS has also expressed its sense of shock that the Electricity Board is violating the Electricity Act by having run its transmission lines on all kinds of trees --- apple, pear, oak, deodar, pine etc. In many places the high tension transmission lines are within dangerously low distances from the ground. There are several unreported cases where women have died due to electrocution by low lying transmission lines, while cutting grass.

 

According to the Kisan Sabha, there is a requirement of 15,000 electricity polls in the Theog Electricity Division while the department has been able to supply only 1500 so far. The voltage of electricity is so low that the light provided by a candle is far more intense than that provided by an electric bulb.

 

The Kisan Sabha has also pointed out that Jawadi Kufta, a dalit village under Kelvi panchayats, has not been electrified so far; this exposes the anti-dalit character of both the BJP and Congress. The successive BJP and Congress governments have failed to provide electricity to this dalit basti.

 

It is notable in this regard that that Dr Onkar Shad, secretary of the CPI(M)ís district unit in Shimla, had sent a communication to the chairman, Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board, at Kumar House in Shimla, as far back as February 9, 2012, regarding the shortage of staff, violation of Electricity Act and low voltage of electricity in the Theog division of State Electricity Board. It is therefore painful to note the department has not even bothered to look into the problems, not to talk of resolving them, even after a lapse of some five months.

 

It is thus clear that the problems facing the peasants and other people of Theog are arising/getting compounded due to the stubborn and callous attitude of the State Electricity Board.

 

It was in order to get this the anti-peasant mindset of the management of State Electricity Board changed, the Kisan Sabha and the Seb Utpadak Sangh had decided to conduct a 72 hours long dharna before the SEB Head Office.

 

The major demands of the apple growers and other people of the area include the following:

1) The 12 vacant posts of JEs, five posts of the foremen (line) and of other staff must be immediately filled up.

2) In order to improve the voltage of electricity, appropriate steps must be taken by installing 33 KV sub-stations and distribution transformers at different places in Theog division of the Electricity Department.

3) In order to enforce the Electricity Act, all transmission lines must be erected on electricity polls, for which 15,000 polls must be provided immediately in the Theog division. In order to avoid any accidental deaths, all transmission lines erected on apple trees and tollies (grass stacks) must be shifted to the poles on priority basis.

4) The dalit village of Jwadi Kufta under Kelvi Panchayat must be immediately electrified.

5) Electricity bills be provided to the consumers on monthly basis; at present they are being given after every sin months in several areas.

 

The Kisan Sabha and the Seb Utpadak Sangh have warned that in case of the SEBís failure to solve the above problems, they would be forced to use other options available to win relief for the people of Theog and to get ensured the implementation of the Electricity Act.