Bringing electricity to the remote and difficult terrain of Ballimusti village by creating micro hydro projects using the available water resources in the area has transformed the darkness in the lives of the villagers and liberated them from depending on the meagre supply of kerosene to light their lamps.
K andheri Mallika is in a hurry. She is rushing through her household chores to watch a new movie on the television with her friends. Life is not the same for Kandheri, who lives with her husband and children in a two-room house in Ballimusti, a small forestfringe village, which is set amid the beautiful landscape of streams and trees. There was a time, not very long ago, when this scenic tranquillity would be enveloped in shadows when it started to get dark in the evenings. Life would come to a halt and the only light in the homes would be from the kerosene lamps, and that too for an hour or so while the children studied; then there would be complete darkness.
Kandheri talks about how her life was so dependent on kerosene, “I would walk 12 km to get a litre of kerosene from the market and that would take me the whole day. I had a BPL card, which entitled me to subsidized 5 litres of kerosene that lit up my home in the night. I used to spend Rs 150–200 per month only on kerosene. My children would study in the evening so they needed the light but then we would remain in darkness throughout the night to save oil and expenses.
“Now, we have electricity in the village. The scenario has changed. We can light up our houses the whole night almost for free and there is no need to buy kerosene. I can now use the money I save on my children—for their education and to buy them clothes. Recently, the school teacher in the village, Mrs. Priyatama Pradhan, started giving evening tuitions and my children go there to study.