The remote hamlet of Elmagunda in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district bordering Bijapur and Telangana received power supply for the first time Monday – just a day ahead of India’s Independence Day this year.
Till now, some villagers used solar energy and many did not even have access to any form of electricity. While Elmagunda village has finally got electricity, another 100 to 130 villages in the region are still ‘in the dark’. Notably, Sukma and Bijapur are considered the most Naxal-affected districts of Chhattisgarh.
Sundaraj P, inspector general of police (IGP) for Bastar range, said, “It is worth mentioning that due to the violent activities of Naxalites in Elmagunda village, the facility of electricity could not be reached till date.”
The power lines were laid by the state electricity department with the help of the district police and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). Officials said a police camp was set up in the area six months ago to provide security to power department personnel. They blamed Naxal activities for the delay in providing electricity to Elmagunda.
“After setting up the police camp, we conducted regular meetings with the villagers, making them aware of Naxal activities. We encouraged them to participate in the development of villages and to stay away from Naxalism…” said Kiran Chawan, superintendent of police, Sukma district.
Chawan added, “After the establishment of the camp, the development works of Elmagunda have picked up pace. Other facilities will be made available to the villagers in the coming days.”
The police said that several security camps have been set up in other Naxal-affected areas of the Bastar region like Tondmarka, and Bedra in the last few months. They said the camps have helped them forge a connection with the locals and extend basic facilities like roads, electricity, and schools.
“On the eve of Independence Day 2023, a significant event took place in Elmagunda village of Sukma District. Every household in the village now has a power connection. This is an outcome of security camps acting as Integrated Development Centres. The security camps in Bastar Range not only perform operational tasks but also facilitate development works like road construction, electrification, and opening of PDS shops, schools, anganwadis, health centres, etc in coordination with the local administration,” said Sundarraj P.