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Lok Sabha 2019 elections: 17 years on, poll helps power school in Coimbatore
Mega sops for the electorate, allegations of voter inducement, imposition of the model code of conduct among others typically mark the run-up to elections in the world’s largest democracy. But, getting an electricity connection almost after two decades ahead of the polls? Strange, but true. A 17-year-old panchayat middle school near Coimbatore has got electricity after it was declared a polling centre for the Lok Sabha elections.
The Dhoomanur panchayat middle school, which has around 48 students in Classes I to VIII, was started in 2002 to ensure children in Dhoomanur and neighbouring villages, including Chaembukarai and Kaattusalai, did not have to travel up to Anaikatti or down to Thadagam to attend school. However, no electricity or water supply was provided except a borewell. In 2004, a trust fit solar panels in the school helping light up classrooms, run the borewell motor and power the reverse osmosis plant, which was set up later. “However, Dhoomanur being located on the hills and on the border of the reserve forest, gets good rain during the monsoon. On the flip side, cloudy skies are frequent. The solar panels can’t produce enough power to light up the classrooms. We can’t teach the children outdoors because of the rain,” said headmaster Shanmugha Sundaram.
The school always gives preference to powering the reverse osmosis plant, followed by lighting for its five classrooms. “During the monsoon, electricity supply will switch off by 2pm latest, due to inadequate sunlight. Or, we need to switch off all lights and motors, so that the little power available can help operate the RO plant,” said Sundaram.
The school was provided with an electric post and connection last year. But, due to some “issues with the meter and wiring”, there was no supply.
“However, once it was declared a polling booth, officials on Thursday brought men and material and made the required repairs. We finally have electricity,” said Anand, village administrative officer of 24 Veerapandi village. “Besides school hours, if the building has electricity permanently, students without power in their houses can study in the school building and people can also take shelter there,” said Anand. There are around 9,000 residents in the 24 Veerapandi panchayat.
Activist Joshu Anand said many students would be motivated to study and the six teachers to teach better, if the classrooms are brightly lit.