Life on the dark side|Anantnag village with hydroelectric project yearns to see lit houses

Nestled between the Pir Panchal mountain range with gushing waters of Mawar stream cutting across it, the remote Fataan village in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district is yet to be electrified.

The village, 45 km from Anantnag town has 80 households, but none has ever purchased an electric bulb so far.

This, despite the fact the 5-MW capacity Ichu-Ahlan hydro-electric power project catering to the majority of Kokernag is barely a few kilometers away.

People here can be seen rushing to nearby villages of Gadol to charge their cell phones once they see the bulbs there glowing occasionally.

However, for lighting their homes they have to remain contend with candlelight or kerosene lamp.

In the chilly winters, firewood remains the only source for the residents to warm themselves or the cold water up.

Mercury here this winter dipped as low as minus 12 degree Celsius.

“With no proper road connectivity or health facility, life here is very harsh. The absence of electricity makes life more difficult,” said Bashir Ahmad Bimla, a 55-year-old labourer.

He said the residents of the village had not seen electricity since they were born.

Shafiq Ahmad, 30, also a labourer says that they have been longing for the day when they would purchase electric bulbs and see light in their houses.

 “Since I was born, I have only seen darkness and no light. This is the reason for us not being able to pursue education,” he said. “We don’t need electricity to use electric gadgets for heating and cooking purposes. We very much rely on the traditional Kangris and cholas. What we want is electricity to light our bulbs only.”

Shazia, a 4th standard student, said while the children of other villages excel at studies, they lag behind as they get less time to study.

The village is not the only one in Kokernag area which has not been electrified though.

Kulpora, Lisso Branard, and Hallan Gujarbasti are among others villages where bulbs are yet to glow.

However, the officials assure that these villages would get electricity soon.

Assistant Executive Engineer (AEE) Sub-division Achabal-Kokernag, Fayaz Ahmad said, “We have already dumped the power infrastructure material including LT poles in all these villages and work will be taken up soon.”