The Telegraph
Friday , December 7 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Power here, pangs there

Jamshedpur was a city of great divide on Thursday as neighbourhoods serviced by JSEB reeled under prolonged power cuts and water crisis, while Tata Steel subsidiary Jusco kept hopes bright in its command areas.

More than 250 workers of JSEB’s Singhbhum Supply Area joined the statewide strike following the agreement signed by the state government with Tata Power and CESC for operation, distribution and transmission in Jamshedpur and Ranchi, respectively.

The deal dealt a severe blow to more than 11 lakh residents outside Jusco’s command areas. Densely populated Mango, pockets of Sonari and Kadma, Birsanagar, Bagunhatu, Baridih, Bagbera, Jugsalai, Kitadih, Karandih, Govindpur and Ghorabandha faced prolonged blackouts.

Sensing growing resentment among people that resulted in demonstrations in front of the district collectorate at Karandih Road and Jugsalai railway crossing, East Singhbhum district administration sent SOS to Jusco and Tata Power to feed essential services. But efforts failed to yield desired results.

Dhalbhum SDO Subodh Kumar went into a huddle with both private players and JSEB superintendent engineer A.P. Singh to get the substations at Uliyan, Kunwar Basti in Mango and Karandih started. The substations, which resumed operation at noon, had to be shut down by 1.30pm because smoke was coming out from the transformers.

“It is impossible to restore power supply completely at such a short notice. We are trying to take help from Jusco and Tata Power officials under the guidance of the senior JSEB official to ensure that supply is restored for water distribution. Without power, the drinking water and sanitation department is unable to supply water from different towers,” Kumar said.

JSEB superintendent engineer Singh pointed out that on an average one substation required eight staff (in three shifts) to run it and the Singhbhum Supply Area had 22 substations spread across East Singhbhum, West Singhbhum and Seraikela-Kharsawan. So, their hands were tied.

Needless to say, residents in JSEB supply areas had a harrowing time.

Homemaker Radhika Acharya of Hem Chhaya apartment in Uliyan, Kadma, woke up early and anxious. The apartment management had warned her that they would turn off her generator lifeline by evening. “We were advised to use power and water sparingly because the generator could not take more load. I have stored water for a day, but if the strike continues, our problems will have no end,” she said.

Amit Barwalia, proprietor of a sari showroom at Jugsalai market, sat idle all afternoon. Not a single customer came by. He rued that he had brought a generator on hire, but it developed a snag. “Without the lights on, who will come to my showroom? We closed down after 5.30pm yesterday (Wednesday) and will have to do the same today.”

However, private security guard Rajesh Singh of Shastrinagar managed to recharge his inverter battery from a relative’s house in Jusco command area so that his sons could prepare for their exams.

“My elder son will appear for his ICSE examination in February. The younger one is already taking his third-term examinations. They could not study on Wednesday. The same must not happen today,” said Singh.

Cellphone users too faced problems. “I was expecting an important call from a relative in Delhi in the morning, but my phone ran out of charge. I had to rush to a friend who has a generator,” said Mango resident Subroto Chatterjee.

There was also a mad scramble for collecting water from public taps of Jusco near Subernarekha bridge, which resulted in heated exchanges.

What is your horror story during the blackout?