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Parched, power-less in Jamshedpur pockets

Mango resident Nagendra Prasad rides 2km every day on his scooter to fetch water

Arup Pal spends sleepless nights at his load shedding-plagued Parsudih home

More than 500,000 people like Prasad and Pal who live beyond Tata Steel command areas in Jamshedpur are reeling from acute water and power crises in this blistering 40-plus summer.

The parched pockets include Mango, Karandih, Parsudih, Bagbera and parts of Sonari and Kadma. Short supply from the central load dispatch is resulting in erratic power distribution in these neighbourhoods, which in turn is triggering water scarcity.

“We are being forced to procure drinking water in containers from distant places because the power crunch has handicapped pumps,” said Anjali Sengupta, a homemaker at Dimna Road, Mango.

Residents carrying jerry cans home on cycles and scooters has become the commonest sight on Mango bridge. Jusco, a subsidiary of Tata Steel that looks after municipal and allied services in the city, has installed the taps from where they are fetching water.

The root of the problem lies in the dry spell, which has reduced the groundwater level and rendered tube wells useless in many non-Tata Steel areas. Drinking water and sanitation department records show that the water table, which was at 100-125ft in 2004-05, has now dropped to 250ft.

“Several factors, including the hot and dry weather, unabated sand mining from riverbeds, haphazard vertical growth and shrinking vegetation, are contributing to the water table plunge,” said environmentalist K.K. Sharma.

Power pangs have only aggravated the discomfort of no water. Areas serviced by Jharkhand Vidyut Vikas Nigam Limited (formerly JSEB) are grappling with supply shortage of 12-14 hours for the past couple of days. Such erratic distribution has even crippled homes with deep boring facilities. Both Golmuri and Gamharia grid substations are complaining of inadequate supply.

Under normal circumstances, Golmuri gets 30-35MW, while Gamharia, which also supplies power to the adjoining Adityapur Industrial Area, gets around 120MW. However, for the past four days, the Gamharia substation is getting only 60-70MW and the Golmuri one a meagre 15MW.

Sources at the central load dispatch, which supplies power to the city and its fringe areas, said the Tenughat Vidyut Nigam Limited was unable to generate adequate power.

Singhbhum supply area general manager O.P. Ambaste admitted the problem, but offered hope. “We are sanguine of restoring normal power supply in areas under our command in a day or two,” he said.

Until then, areas like Mango, Adityapur, Parsudih, Jugsalai, Ghorabandha, Chhota Govindpur, Karandih and Sundernagar will have to deal with prolonged load shedding and intermittent power cuts, as well as water crisis.

“The frequent power failure is affecting my study routine. Besides, I am unable to sleep at night. Our lives are in a mess without water and power,” Arvind Kumar, a student of Rajendra Vidyalaya and resident of Mango, summed up resident woes.


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