A barber takes up quite a challenge at his candle-lit shop at Plaza Chowk, Ranchi, on Thursday. The ‘powerful’ official residence of chief minister Arjun Munda on Kanke Road presents a picture of contrast. Pictures by Hardeep Singh
An apprehensive mother had to send her son to school without a shower, an embarrassed college student had to rush to use the bathroom of a friend and a hospital squeezed the last drop of diesel in its generators.
Ranchi woke up shivering at 10.6°C and grappled with a harrowing morning with no power to run geysers or water pumps, as JSEB employees across the state embarked on their flash strike on Wednesday night, opposing entry of private companies in the distribution sector.
Barring a few high-profile areas such as Kanke Road and Harmu — home to chief minister Arjun Munda and Team India skipper M.S. Dhoni — the rest of the city remained deprived of electricity supply from late on Wednesday night.
The home truths
“We pulled through the night, but the morning was a disaster. We could not heat water for bathing. I thought it wise to send my son to school without a shower, instead of forcing him into the bone-numbing tank water,” said Rashmi Jha, a working mother of two at Morabadi.
Besides individual households, chaos reigned supreme at lodges and apartments too. “I woke up in the morning to see there wasn’t a single drop of water in the toilet. I checked with the lodge manager, who said they had managed to run the pump just once in the morning and it could not be done again. With no other option left, I had to rush to a friend’s home to freshen up,” said Shreeparna Mazumdar, a BIT-Mesra student in Lalpur.
Apartments have remained largely dependent on generators.
“Usually, we spend about four litres of diesel a day. By 3pm today (Thursday), we had run out of 15 litres,” said S. Khemka, the president of Gharonda Apartment Society at Dangratoli Chowk
The privileged few
Power supply was withdrawn at most places in the capital around midnight on Wednesday, while some enjoyed the privilege till early hours of the morning. But, Jharkhand’s mandarins in Ranchi barely felt the pangs.
Key areas like Kanke Road, which houses Raj Bhavan and the official home addresses of the chief minister, the chief justice of Jharkhand High Court and the Speaker of Jharkhand Assembly among others, witnessed normal supply. Project Building, the state secretariat, too, functioned without a power glitch. Pockets like Harmu and Bariatu managed to stay on the grid as well
Though Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) remained outside the purview of the strike, Ranchi Sadar Hospital reeled under prolonged power cuts. “We are running on generators since morning. If supply is not restored soon, things will spin out of control,” A.K. Jha, the medical superintendent of sadar hospital, expressed his concerns.
“Currently, all testing and diagnostic facilities such as X-ray machines are running on generators. But, for how long?” Jha asked.
The state of affairs at private hospitals and nursing homes was no better. “If the situation continues for more than 24 hours, we do not know what we will do,” said Yogesh Gambhir, president of Association of Hospitals and Nursing Homes in Jharkhand
Shops and business establishments were worst-hit. “Small industries are running on generators. Production will definitely suffer. But, we are with the Munda government’s decision (to streamline power distribution by signing agreements with the Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation and Tata Power),” said Ranjit Tibrewal, the president of Federation of Jharkhand Chamber of Commerce and Industries.
The JSEB strike, however, failed to scupper train and flight services from Ranchi.
What is your horror story during the blackout?