A new wave of energy has swept a remote village of Matta Tehsil. Children are excited, elders relieved. Electricity had lit their dark houses after over six decades of independence and connected them to the modern world.
“We can now watch cartoons on the TV just like all the other children,” said an excited child during the inauguration of a micro-hydropower station on Saturday.
The community-based power station, which will supply electricity to about 110 households in Swatai village, has been installed with the assistance of Small Grants Ambassador Fund Program of the USAID in collaboration with the Swat Participatory Council (SPC).
The provision of electricity spells good news for the villagers, who mainly depend on farming and day labour. They seem happy to be able to operate electrical appliances like television, radio, washing machines and refrigerators. “Earlier we would gaze out at the village across bathed in light. Now, we too can illuminate our homes with bulbs, replacing the candles and lanterns which give only a tiny glow,” said 12-year-old Awais while talking to The Express Tribune at the ceremony. “I can play video games too now,” he added.
Ironically enough, the area had free access to the wireless telecommunication network systems but not the electric supply to make them work. “My son is working abroad and we would always have to go to other towns to call him up. Now, we can easily talk to him anytime and anywhere,” said 70-year-old Shah Zaman Khan.
Bacha Khan, a former Naib Nazim and social activist of the area, said, “After asking the government for this facility for years, we finally have it. This is a landmark development and it will certainly simplify our lives, especially for women who had to do laundry and ironing during the daylight hours.” He added that the lack of road infrastructure and bridges are two other issues which the villagers are faced with.
Nadir Khan, chairman of a local committee, said, “In the age of technological advancement, we were deprived of basic facilities. This is not a mere project installation project but a phenomenon of electricity and all the benefits attached to it. We have no words to thank USAID and SPC.”
The locals have encouraged the initiative. “I’m really impressed that a progressive step has been taken here,” said Muhammad Ali, a social worker who runs an orphanage at Mingora. In the vein of celebrating, he announced to facilitate 15 orphans with free education and boarding facilities.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 2nd, 2012.