Mangaluru: The ‘dark ages’ have ended for 47 families in Banjaru Male, a tribal habitat situated in the heavily wooded Western Ghats.
Banjaru Male is located in Neriya village of Belthangady taluk and villagers are almost cut off from the rest of the area they have to travel about 20 km to reach the main road near Charmadi Ghat. These families of the Malekudiya tribe have been living in the village since several generations but are deprived of basic amenities like transport and electricity.
Though a solar plant was sanctioned for the village, it remained unfulfilled due to lack of government land with repeated requests to officials not bearing any result. Providing electricity was nothing less than a Herculean task as electricity had to be drawn across 20 kms with the help of 1,000 poles.
Adivasi Hakkugala Samanvaya Samithi led by its president Vasantha Nada, General Secretary Jayanand Pilikala and activist Shekhar Laila, who have been fighting for the rights of tribals in the region, took up the responsibility and spoke to the officers and minister concerned. Finally electricity was sanctioned under Saubhagya Project for which the government provided Rs 1.2 crore.
As per an earlier survey, power had to be drawn on the existing road measuring 21 km. However with Jordan Company and Yenepoya Company giving their nod to draw the electricity line through their estates, the distance was decreased to 12 km. In total, three transformers have been installed and 436 electric poles have been laid.
The completion of the project makes it the biggest electrification project provided to a tribal habitat in Belthangady. Now that the work has been completed, villagers are eagerly waiting for the government to inaugurate it. Once the project is inaugurated, all the villagers will be able to get electric lights.