HYDERABAD: Despite having Aadhaar cards, voter ID cards and ration cards, over 400 families living in Ambedkar huts near the Mudfort, in the Secunderabad Cantonment area, are forced to spend their nights in darkness since years as the electricity department has refused to supply them with power.
Male residents of the area are generally employed as daily wage labourers, construction workers, sanitation workers, auto-rickshaw drivers and the drivers of private vehicles.
But, their low income doesn’t stop them from educating their children from schools and colleges. Some students from the area are even pursuing Intermediate and degree courses.
However, due to the lack of electricity, the students are forced to either complete their homework and other assignments before sunset, or study in candle light. Meanwhile, the adults who have cell phones have to charge them outside of their homes. D. Rangappa, a resident of the area, says that the families living there are worried about their children’s education suffering. They are also worried about the increased risk of contracting diseases such as malaria and dengue.
They have set up their own association with S. Ashok as its president. Mr Ashok, who works as a driver, says that the residents of the area are willing to pay for electricity if only they are given legal power connections. He says that families used to illegally draw power from the overhead cables, but only for a while.
“Due to requests from local leaders, the staff from the electricity department used to be considerate. Some residents even bought TVs due to pressure from children and women in their families, while others did not because they were unsure about how long they would be able to draw power. Their joy was short-lived, as the electricity department has recently laid cables with rubber covers to eliminate the scope for attachment of illegal wires,” he says.
Meanwhile, officials of the Secunderabad Cantonment Board (SCB) say that the land occupied by the huts belongs to the defence department, which is why the electricity department has not provided power connections.