CHENNAI: The Erumaiparai tribal hamlet in Anamalai Tiger Reserve (ATR) is deprived of power connection and people are still in the dark when night sets in the settlement. The Tamil Nadu forest department has submitted applications to the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution (Tangedco) company for providing power to the tribal hamlet. The project has hit a roadblock after Tangedco demanded a payment of Rs 6 lakh extra for insulated power lines.
While speaking to IANS, a senior official of the Anamalai Tiger Reserve said, "The ATR had given a proposal to the Tangedco for providing power connection to 34 houses in Erumaiparai tribal hamlet. However, Tangedco is demanding Rs 6 lakh extra for insulated cable wires and the project has hit a roadblock. This means we are depriving the most marginalised people of the society of power connection and are leaving them in the dark".
K. Murugadasan, member of the eco-development committee of ATR said, "Each family has deposited Rs 3,500 for electricity connection six months ago. However, there is no information on the power connection and during rainy season solar panels don't work and our children are forced to study under kerosene lamps."
According to guidelines of the Supreme Court, standing committee of National board for wildlife and the Union environment ministry, power transmission lines with insulated cables or underground cables must be used in protected areas to safeguard wildlife from being electrocuted. It may be noted that several elephants have died due to electrocution.
Forest officials told IANS that the ATR officials have requested the Superintendent Engineer in Udumalpet to use insulated cables for Erumaiparai tribal hamlet. However, forest department officials told IANS that Tangedco had informed that only overhead cables with suitable guarding arrangements can be provided.
Tangedco has informed that to use insulated cables, Rs 6 lakh has to be paid by the forest department and that the electricity department will immediately provide connection if the difference money is paid.
It may be noted that several elephants had died due to electrocution by touching sagging overhead power transmission lines. ATR has requested Tangedco for a joint inspection on the sagging transmission cables and to rectify it, so that wild elephants do not touch the line and get electrocuted.