Case studies

Let There Be Light!

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Are you afraid of the dark? If so, you wouldn’t have liked living in the tiny hamlet of Piprahi in Madyha Pradesh. They’ve been waiting to be connected to the electricity grid for 2 years… until now! Thanks to support from PACS partner EHA, the village committee complained to the local government. 10 days later they had light!

Remote, neglected and cut off

There are just 60 houses in Piprahi. Situated in the Panna district of Madyha Pradesh, the village is cut off by high hills on one side and a river on the other.

The nearest village is 2km away, on the other side of the river. However, there’s no bridge and so it’s difficult for anyone to reach them.

Piprahi’s remoteness is part of the reason why the village has been neglected by service providers – it’s just too difficult to get to.

However… there’s another reason.

Caste-based discrimination

90% of the families who live in Piprahi belong to Scheduled Castes.

People from Scheduled Castes – otherwise known as Dalits – were on the lowest rung of the Indian caste system, deemed “untouchable” by higher castes.

Although the caste system was abolished in 1949, Dalits are still looked down upon and discriminated against in Indian society.

Piprahi’s two year wait for electricity is a case-in-point…

A two year wait for electricity

Two years ago, Piprahi was approved for electrification under a government scheme. However, although the work was started, the contractor was slow and negligent asking the villagers for more money to complete the job.

Despite complaining to the authorities on many occasions, the electrification was never finished and the villagers remained in the dark.

This lack of will and motivation to complete a job for a Dalit community is a perfect example of the type of discrimination that Dalits face.

The right to electricity

PACS partner the Emmanuel Hospital Association (EHA) helped the villagers of Piprahi to form a Village Development and Monitoring Committee.

They have taught the village committee about their rights and entitlements, including their right to healthcare, education… and electrification.

With this new-found knowledge, a member of the village committee – Naresh Kori – logged yet another complaint on behalf of the community. However, this time he logged it with the relevant government helpline, making a note of his complaint registration number and the date.

4 days later he received a call back from the District Electricity Office informing him that electrification would be completed within 10 days.

From darkness to light

Today, the people of Piprahi have electricity. Villagers have light bulbs in their houses and they've recently bought an electric mill so that they can grind their grain into flour. Before, they had to walk 3km to another village to do this.

However, most importantly, they have been enlightened with the knowledge, skills and confidence to be able to advocate for the services they are entitled to.

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