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Sleepless over VVIP’s sound sleep

Calcutta, July 15: The Ten Commandments were inscribed on two Tablets of Stone.

The Eighteen Commandments of Bengal run into three pages and carry the title “Checklist for electrical installation in places of halt of VIPs/VVIPs”.

Thou shalt “check wiring”…

Thou shalt “check the split pin of ceiling fan”…

Thou shalt ensure the “hired generator set must be silent in nature and must be of reputed make”…

Thou shalt ensure the “pump motor should be capable of discharging required quantity of water”…

The “thou shalt” prefix has not actually made it to the man-made document. But the rest of the commands and more have robbed several engineers of sleep in Bengal.

All for the worthy cause of ensuring sound sleep for VIPs and VVIPs who should thank one particular VVIP for the rare attention to the minutest detail.

The efficacy of the guidelines, issued by the chief engineer (electrical)-I, PWD, to all executive engineers, will be ground-tested tomorrow itself when chief minister Mamata Banerjee visits north Bengal.

Rarely before has such a detailed battle plan been issued to thwart such nefarious infiltrators called “glitches” that invade everyday appliances in countless homes in the country.

Not without solid reason.

On June 6, a 15-minute power cut was insolent enough to strike when Mamata was staying at a forest bungalow in Madarihat in north Bengal. Never mind there was a storm and rain, divisional engineer Soumen Das was suspended.

On June 26, an air-conditioner at the Mongpong forest bungalow decided to pack up, perhaps unaware of the fact that it was supposed to cool the chief minister’s room. Two engineers were suspended.

On July 9, power supply turned erratic at the Bolpur circuit house where the chief minister spent the night. Two senior electrical engineers were sent on long leave.

Such “glitches” had taken an ominous hue probably because smoke emanated from an AC in a Malda hotel where Mamata had put up in April during campaigning. The smoke had prompted Trinamul to write to the Election Commission, accusing it of “failing in its duty to ensure her safety and security”.

It is against this backdrop and the litany of calamities that fax messages detailing the guidelines have landed on the tables of executive engineers in all 12 circles across the state.

The advisory makes it clear that the executive engineer of the circle where the government guesthouse is located will have to issue the fitness certificate after checking whether all steps have been followed. In the absence of the executive engineer, the assistant engineer will have to issue the certificate.

“As we don’t want a repeat of the glitches, we had to issue the guidelines which would have to be followed by our engineers,” said an official at Nabanna.

Which has reduced some engineers to quivering nervous wrecks. “We are trying our best to ensure a glitch-free trip…. But the fact is, we will be dealing with machines, which can develop snags despite the best possible maintenance and precautions. We are all praying nothing untoward happens during her visit,” said a senior engineer.

The chief minister is leaving for Darjeeling tomorrow and will be back in Calcutta on Saturday. She is scheduled to spend the night in the Darjeeling Circuit House but no one is sure about other possible night halts.

The uncertainty means a lot of engineers will be spending more time with ACs, ceiling fans, geysers and pumps than their families, unsure which government bungalow will fall on the chief minister’s route.


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