An electric pole lies damaged in Ganjam. Picture by Gopal Krishna Reddy
Bhubaneswar/Berhampur, Oct. 16: Snehangshu Sekhar Padhy, 45, a small-time businessman, is now cursing himself for leaving Rayagada, where he worked on his farm.
Seven years ago, Padhy had moved to Berhampur to provide good education to his children. One of them is an ITI student, while the other is studying in Class X.
But everything changed with Cyclone Phailin throwing Padhy’s dream town Berhampur into darkness. For the last five days, there is no electricity and no one knows when power supply will be restored.
Padhy said: “As village folk, we were used to living without electricity. But having settled here in a city, going without power for five days is a sheer torture. It seems like an unending nightmare.”
Recalling the ferocity of Cyclone Phailin, Padhy said the tiles of his rented house were blown away and the walls had leaked.
“We are using kerosene lamps to light up our home. What’s worse, water supply has been stopped. Our problems are mounting,” he said.
Padhy’s wife Pragyan Paramita, 41, shares his anxiety. “Two of my sons have stopped studying for last five days. I am worried about the younger son who is in Class X. If power supply is not restored, it will badly affect their studies,” she said.
Padhy is not the only one to suffer in the aftermath of the cyclone. In Ganjam, there are nearly six lakh power consumers who are reeling from the collapse of electric supply infrastructure. Cyclone Phailin and subsequent floods have also damaged power supply network in 13 other coastal districts.
Energy secretary Pradeep Kumar Jena said: “The state’s power sector has suffered a loss of Rs 900 crore. Nearly 34,000km of low tension electric lines and 37,000km high tension electric lines have been damaged.”
In Berhampur town alone, 13 power substations have collapsed.
“We are trying to restore the power supply system as soon as possible. However, it will take nearly one month to resume power supply in Ganjam district. Around 80 per cent of 33/11 KV lines have been damaged. It requires a massive restoration effort and means deployment of huge manpower,” Jena said.
Nearly 4.8 lakh electric poles were uprooted due to Phailin. While the state requires 3,000 skilled labourers to undo the damage, at present only 1,200 are on the job.
“We have requested the Power Grid Corporation of India, National Thermal Power Corporation and National Hydro Power Corporation to provide us with skilled manpower to deal with the situation,” said Jena.
Special relief commissioner Pradipta Kumar Mohapatra said: “Power connections have been restored in several parts of the state. However, it will take a few more days to restore power in areas under Krushnaprasad block near Chilika lake and various parts of Ganjam district.”
Power supply, however, has been restored in Cuttack and Bhubaneswar. The state government is also taking steps to restore power in Berhampur. It has asked the Rourkela Steel Plant to immediately provide 1,000 electric poles.
“These will be reaching Berhampur shortly,” said an official.
The government has also sought the Prime Minister’s intervention to help normalise the power situation. Chief minister Naveen Patnaik spoke to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh three days ago and then wrote to Union minister of state for power Jyotiraditya Scindia requesting him to extend support to the state by providing skilled manpower for restoration of electricity supply.