On July 23, TNM had reported that seven tribal villages in the Nilgiris are yet to have electricity after visiting three of the villages located in Kotagiri and Coonoor taluks of the district in Tamil Nadu. TANGEDCO (Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation) on Wednesday, August 10 responded to the video story and said the issues were being addressed.
In a reply to the video story, TANGEDCO said "as per the reports, the said hamlets are situated within dense forests in the Coonoor and Kotagiri region. The respective District Forest Officers are being addressed in necessary formats to obtain No Objection Certificates for erecting electric poles and laying electric cables in the forest area to electrify these hamlets."
Jogee Kombai, Chengal Kombai, Ojanoor Kombai, Mallikorai, Melkorangumedu, Semakorai in Coonoor taluk, and Anilkadu Village in Kotagiri taluk are some tribal hamlets in the hilly district of Nilgiris that are yet to receive electricity. Years of public demands have been put aside by the Forest department and TNEB (Tamil Nadu Electricity Board) officials, stating that these villages are located inside the dense forest. Despite the claims, Anilkadu village in Kotagiri is situated in the shola patches but the presence of the Shola forest did not prevent the Forest department from allowing road connectivity to a nearby privately-owned tea estate. Tribal activists also asked the officials to make a proper visit to the hamlets to check whether the villages are located in the rough terrain or dense forests to know the possibilities of erecting poles and giving electricity connection.
Video: 7 tribal villages in the Nilgiris have no electricity
Tamil Nadu Forest Minister K Ramachandran, on Wednesday, said that the necessary steps will be taken to ensure that the tribal people in the seven villages get electricity at a press meet. "Two days back, Tamil Nadu Forest department for the first time invited all the tribal leaders from across the district and discussed with them the amenities that their villages are bereft of. Among 274 tribal hamlets in Nilgiris, some villages are yet to have an electricity connection. We have requested funds for the project from the government. Once we receive the Adi Dravida welfare fund, the works will begin," he said.
It is to be noted that on July 15, the Madras High Court disposed of a petition seeking to provide electricity connections to these seven villages. "Electricity connection could not be provided as the area falls under dense forest, thus erection of an electricity grid was not found feasible. However, steps would be taken to set up the solar light through the Solaris company. The petitioner is, however, insisting on the electricity connection in the tribal areas. The documents and records show that apart from being a dense forest, it is such a hilly area where it is difficult to erect a new electric grid and therefore, electricity connection could not be given," the court observed.