Residents of Rai Jharia in Dhanbad announce their decision to boycott polls on Monday. (Gautam Dey)
As Dhanbad MP hopefuls intensify campaigning for the Lok Sabha elections, over 250 families of Rai Jharia locality in Bastacola are gearing up to boycott the April 24 polls to protest against BCCL management’s move to disconnect power supply to their homes for no fault of theirs.
The neighbourhood, located less than four kilometres from the district headquarters, is living in darkness for over 150 days after the BCCL snapped electricity connection on January 2 as part of an anti-encroachment exercise in nearby Paharigora area.
Since then, the residents, who include BCCL employees and unorganised labourers, have approached BCCL chairman-cum-managing director T.K. Lahiry, Dhanbad MP P.N. Singh, MLA Kunti Devi, SP Hemant Toppo and DC Prashant Kumar among others to seek a solution, but to no avail.
Angry, the residents have decided to boycott the polls and put up a banner outside the colony, bearing the slogan: Bijli nahi to vote nahi.
Seeds of the unrest were sown in December last year when BCCL decided to expand Vishwakarma project and served notices on more than 300 families living illegally on company’s land in Paharigora, around 500m from Rai Jharia, to vacate the area.
When residents of Paharigora refused to budge without proper rehabilitation plans and compensation, the company management snapped power supply in the area.
Later, the residents managed to restore power by tapping into the lines of Rai Jharia locality. BCCL, getting information of the pilferage, immediately stopped power supply to Rai Jharia homes.
Residents of Rai Jharia are tired of running from pillar to post to get electricity restored.
“We met BCCL authorities, including area general manager A.K. Singh, and functionaries of district administration, but our pleas seem to have fallen on deaf ears,” said Jyoti Ravidas, a BCCL employee and resident of the locality.
Another BCCL employee Shankar Dhikkar rued how the blackout affected his daughter’s exam preparations. “My daughter Rajni, a student of BSS College, appeared for intermediate exams in February. She could not prepare well as there was no light,” he said.
When contacted, project manager of Dhansar colliery, BCCL, B.K. Mishra said: “I am outside Dhanbad at present and not fully aware of the development. I will take stock of everything after coming back.”