India feels the heat as thousands riot over power cuts

when there is so much of power cuts;daily 4 to 12 hours as ordered

by government; and when thousands and thousands of villages are yet to get electricity connection what is the fun in blindly imitating this western idea of "earth hour"

Indian village women carry dried cow dung cakes near the outskirts of Allahabad. Dung is converted to biogas to generate electricity and heat. [AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE]

According to the nation's 2001 census, about 78 million rural households had no access to electricity.

Officials accept that Kanugaon, along with many other villages, has largely remained left out in the first stage of the federal program -- named after slain former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi -- because of limited sanctions for infrastructure and equipment.

"Hopefully, we will get the government sanction for the requirements to cater to the demands in the second stage later this year," said Lalit Sarma, senior project manager in Golaghat district, where Kanugaon is located.

An Indian village is declared electrified if it meets three criteria: Having basic infrastructure, such as distribution transformers and lines in inhabited localities as well as in the hamlets where low-castes live; having power supply in public institutions, such as schools, village council offices, health and community centers; and having electric connections in at least 10 percent of the total number of households.

In the project records, Kanugaon is therefore considered electrified though there is a "no" placed against key columns like completion of all works, certification by the village council and energizing.

"Most of us still live without power ... live in the dark. This electrification is only on paper," said Das.

According to Das, residents have to travel to a neighboring tea estate to charge their cell phones at a cost of US$0.01.

According to an independent power expert, over 40 per cent of India's population still depends on kerosene for lighting, such as these children using lanterns on the grounds of their school.