Melghat in Amravati district mostly makes it to news because of malnutrition deaths and high rate of infant mortality. Nestled on the border with Madhya Pradesh, the area is inhabited by Korku tribes living in a time warp refusing to come to terms with modern lifestyle changes.
Electricity supply in Melghat is of rudimentary nature. The lines go off for 10 to 12 hours a day at a stretch in over 300 villages in Dharni tehsil. Moreover, 25 villages located in the core area of Melghat Tiger Reserve have to live in darkness as the power lines are not allowed in the core area. In such conditions, besides other health problems, snakebites are a big threat to life.
One such village—Dolar— has got a gift of solar power thanks to a Nagpur-based company Business Algorithms (BAlgo) and its corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative. The computer company has a solar products division which was working with Mahan Trust for providing solar solutions for its hospital at Utavali, 8km from Dharni.
Sudhir and Reeta Budhay of BAlgo readily agreed to provide solar power to Dolar, located 45km from Dharni. Each of its 54 huts now has two solar lights. Besides, 21 street lights have also been put up in the village. The total cost was around Rs6 lakh.
“It has definitely brought cheer to the residents. But there are at least 20 more villages in the interior of the tiger reserve that could do with solar power,” said Dr Ashish Satav, who jointly runs a voluntary agency called Mahan Trust. While an arrangement has been made with an electrician at Dharni to attend to repairs, Dr Satav is considering training local tribal youths for the maintenance work. “We are talking to an expert in the field from Pune who could train them,” he told TOI.
“Transportation to the village in absence of roads, working without electric drills or equipment were indeed challenging for my workers who had tough time getting a proper food while doing the job. But it was all compensated with the smiles on villagers faces seeing the glowing lights,” recounted Budhays.
Despite massive government programme to address the problem of high rate of infant mortality, it continues to haunt Melghat region. Child marriages and work compulsions cloud over maternal instincts as tiny tots are left behind to their fate in huts with little food when parents go out looking for work.
Voluntary agencies like Mahan Trust run by Dr Ashish Satav and doctor couple Ravindra and Smita Kolhe are doing yeomen service for years to make a difference in lives of these tribals by providing health care facilities. A large number of villages in Dharni and Paratwada tehsils become inaccessible during monsoon making life worse for the hapless tribals.