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Darkness engulfs districts after gale
- Transmission towers uprooted, complete restoration to take long

Ranchi, Feb. 2: More than 20 per cent of the state was plunged into darkness after a gale, accompanied by torrential rain, uprooted transmission towers and power supply poles last evening.

Mining at the various underground collieries of Eastern Coalfields Ltd ground to a halt after the disruption of power from the Farakka grid. Power officials said a complete restoration would take as many as 30 days.

Sources told The Telegraph that the worst-affected districts were Pakur, Sahebganj, Godda, Mahgama and Lalmatia, where even essential services — including water supply — were disrupted.

At least eight transmission towers on the 220-KV lines of the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), connecting Farakka in West Bengal and Lalmatia in Jharkhand, were uprooted. The problem was compounded after three more transmission towers on the Lalmatia-Sabaur (Bihar) section collapsed. Around 10 electric poles connecting four 33-KVA feeders at Sahebganj, Godda, Mahagama and Eastern Coalfields tumbled to the ground. The collapse of the 11 transmission towers paralysed power supply in adjoining Bihar districts as well.

As the towers in northern Jharkhand districts collapsed, the state electricity board kicked off emergency operations, preventing the rest of the state from plunging into darkness. Board chairman Rajiv Ranjan said an emergency meeting of top power officials was called this morning to start emergency operations and restore normality at the earliest.

As part of an action plan, Ranjan said, the general manager (transmission) of Dumka district has been told to replace all uprooted electric poles with temporary ones on all the main supply lines within seven days at the most.

“Complete restoration of normality, however, could take as many as 30 days,” Ranjan said. The Dumka general manager (transmission), he said, has been told to ensure normal supply within a maximum of one month.

To meet the power deficit after the disruption of the Farakka-Lalmatia link, a formal request was made to NTPC’s Kahalgaon unit in Bihar to supply at least 10 MVA power to restore normality in Sahebganj district, Ranjan said. Bihar, he said, started supplying 5 MVA power from this morning. As the power supply from Bihar increases, the general managers of transmission and distribution, based in Dumka, will divert at least 4 MVA power to Godda, Sahebganj and Mahagama to restore essential services by this evening, Ranjan said.

Four top officials from the board’s Ranchi headquarters have been rushed to the affected areas, he said.

The entire workforce dealing with power generation, distribution and transmission in northern Jharkhand has been redeployed for emergency operations.

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