The Uttar Pradesh initiative of engaging women self-help groups (SHGs) as 'bijli sakhis' has started to light the bulb of the state's revenue. Employed under the National Rural Livelihood Mission, these women groups have helped the administration to recover ₹49 lakhs worth of power bills across rural areas of the Prayagraj district. As per reports, these dues have been accrued between February 1 and June 15, 2021.
Bijli Sakhi earned a commission of ₹2.5 lakh despite the lockdown
Pedaling a two-pronged drive, UP's 'bijli sakhis' made a groundbreaking statement of women empowerment in the rural setups of Soraon, Koraon, Phulpur, Meja, Karchana, Mauaima and Pratappur, while facilitating payment of power bills for the electricity department.
Around 102 women, segregated into 10 groups, constituted the sakhi force that independently managed to realise electricity dues from 5,274 consumers. As such, they recovered ₹49 lakh bills in just 5 months, surprising the senior power department officials as well. With this, the SHG has managed to earn a commission of ₹2.5 lakh for themselves, amid the pandemic.
Vinod Kumar Gangwar, the chief power engineer of the Prayagraj division, said, "These women have ensured that collection of electricity dues from rural areas, even during the peak of the pandemic second wave. We are now planning to encourage more rural women to join this mission, aimed at empowering them and also doing a noble national service."
While the Bijli Sakhis undergo brief training on reading meters and generating power bills before they start working, most women in this campaign were first-time workers- a fact that only adds more credit to their performance. The NRLM's district mission manager, Amit Shukla, further appreciated their skill and commended their dedication.
"We trained 115 women to work as Bijli Sakhis in Prayagraj and 102 of them have already started working by reading electricity meters, generating bills and collecting the due amounts", he added.