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Solar power to end darkness in JP's village

Thursday, 10 July 2003, 07:00 Hrs
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PATNA: Power-starved Bihar is turning to solar energy to end the darkness in the native village of one of its brightest sons, the late socialist leader Jayaprakash Narayan, popularly called JP.

Though Bihar is celebrating JP's birth centenary this year, few know that his village Sitab Diyara has been languishing in darkness, untouched by electricity even in the 21st century.

"We will end the darkness in JP's village by providing solar energy," Energy Minister Shakeel Ahmad Khan said.

JP's village in Saran district lies on Bihar's western fringe, bordering Uttar Pradesh. Old plans to develop Sitab Diyara as a model village lie forgotten.

A political crusader, JP led a people's movement against Indira Gandhi's emergency rule in the 1970s and orchestrated the end of the Congress party's dominance in Indian polity.

Beginning in Bihar, his movement spread all over India and resulted in the first non-Congress coalition taking office in New Delhi in 1977, ousting the Congress for the first time since independence.

Like most villages in Bihar, Sitab Diyara lacks basic healthcare, clean drinking water, electricity and roads. What adds to its pain is the fact that a few metres away lies a village of Uttar Pradesh that has all the basic amenities.

Last month the issue of the lack of electricity in JP's village was raised in the assembly. It cropped up again early this week, prompting the government to promise solar power to light up Sitab Diyara.

The energy minister blamed Uttar Pradesh for the delay in electrifying JP's village, claiming the neighbouring state had not given clearance for electricity lines to be rigged up in the border area.

"We will again start talks with Uttar Pradesh on the issue," he said.

Leading followers of JP have been calling the shots in Bihar and Indian politics for the past decade. Among them are former Bihar chief minister Laloo Prasad Yadav, Railway Minister Nitish Kumar, former federal minister Ram Vilas Paswan and state opposition leader Sushil Kumar Modi.

Some have announced grand plans to change face of their mentor's native village, but nothing concrete has taken shape yet.

Former prime minister Chandra Shekhar, a close associate of JP, had directed Sitab Diyara to be developed as a model village. The task was handed over to the central rural development department, which was asked to prepare a master plan. But nothing has happened.

In the early 1980s, the Bihar government announced plans to open a big hospital in JP's village in the name of his wife Jaya Prabha. Villagers even donated land. But the project is yet to see the light of day.

Source: IANS
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