|(Top) Sushil Kumar Modi uses a writing pad as a fan; employees at a government office in Patna on Tuesday. Pictures by Amit Bhelari and Deepak Kumar
Power played a great leveller on Tuesday. Playing truant, it brought the rulers and the ruled on the same pedestal.
From chief minister Nitish Kumar to the state government employees, and from deputy chief minister to train passengers, everyone in the state suffered because of the prolonged power cut triggered by the eastern grid failure. The power snapped around 1pm, when deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi was about to start his weekly news meet at his official residence (1 Polo Road).
After waiting for about 20 minutes, Modi asked his personal assistant to call up energy minister Bijendra Yadav. As the minister could not be contacted, a sweating deputy chief minister asked his official to speak to Patna Electric Supply Undertaking (Pesu) general manager SKP Singh. After being informed about the eastern sector grid glitch, Modi started his business using a writing pad as a fan.
“Power cut does not take place in this locality. Hence, I have not kept any generator in my official residence,” Modi said.
His boss — the chief minister — was no better placed. He had to chair a cabinet meeting with air-conditioners off.
“The generator back-up at the chief minister’s office in the old secretariat is not enough to support the air-conditioners. Hence, the cabinet meeting was conducted without ACs. It was uncomfortable,” one of Nitish’s cabinet colleagues told The Telegraph.
The government employees were not that lucky. Their offices plunged into darkness because of the grid failure.
Employees at the minor irrigation department in the new secretariat building were seen chatting with each other near the window of their office room. “We have been forced to sit idle as we cannot see anything inside the office,” said one of the employees.
The scene was no different in the education department. Computers having power backup were on but no work was being done.
“We use computers for drafting letters and other official documents. But we cannot feed data to computers in the dark,” said one of the computer operators.
Situation was no better in the main secretariat. The hall of the general administration department was vacant and most of the employees were loitering on the corridor.
Even the energy department office in Sichai Bhavan wore a deserted look, as the hall meant for the employees was dark. It was impossible to work there.
Private establishments and banks, however, appeared better equipped to handle the power cut. “We are used to such situations. Hence, we keep enough stock of diesel to run the office on generator,” said an employee of a software company functioning from Biscomaun Bhavan.
With Pesu not in a position to give any specific time for restoration of power supply, there was a mad rush at petrol pumps to store diesel for running generators.
The stock of the pump on the eastern side of Gandhi Maidan exhausted around 3.30pm. The pump on Frazer Road had to order 12,000 litres (one tanker) of diesel to meet the demand.