The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mamata stands by ‘illegal’ power consumers

Calcutta, Feb. 22: Cancelling her return to Delhi for the second time in 24 hours, Mamata Banerjee laid siege to Karaya in the city with hundreds of Trinamul Congress supporters when CESC engineers landed to disconnect unauthorised power lines in tanneries that dot the area.

The polluting units were operating in defiance of a government order asking them to shut down or shift.

Tangra and Tiljala, off Bridge 4 on the Park Circus-E.M. Bypass, connector were on the boil today when the tannery owners and a large mob of Trinamul workers poured onto the streets to resist the CESC engineers from carrying out the overnight drive.

Mamata reached the spot around 2 pm and resisted the workmen from snapping the lines. “Yesterday they assured us of full co-operation in restoring power supply to those who were affected by the CESC drive. To my utter dismay, I find they have come back and snapped more than a dozen lines,” Mamata said.

At the root of the drive is an order from the government, which was censured by the Supreme Court for its failure to shift tanneries from the Tiljala-Tangra-Karaya belt to the Calcutta Leather Complex. The apex court had also fixed a timeframe to carry out the relocation.

Witnesses said the CESC men were heckled by tannery workers. They also gheraoed them on Tiljala Road. “Our engineers were gheraoed when they declined to reconnect the lines,” said Arabindo Bose, CESC’s general manager, loss control cell. The power utility sought police help to get the engineers freed.

Following 110 disconnections yesterday, the engineers turned off unauthorised power at 65 sites today. Bose said another 155 connections would be turned off in the next few days.

Mamata, mayor Subrata Mukherjee by her side, alleged that domestic lines were also disconnected. The CESC contested the allegation. “We kept ourselves confined to disconnecting 440-volt and 220-volt industrial and commercial lines… We went by the list provided by the government,” Bose said.

Mamata said it was decided at an all-party meeting with the Election Commission that no power line would be snapped before the polls. “What they (CESC) are doing is illegal and we will be here as long as they do not restore the supply. If this goes on day after day, I will think of other ways to stop them,” she said.

Late in the night, Mamata called off the sit-in. Trinamul leaders claimed that the CESC had restored some domestic connections. However, Bose said no connection was restored.

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