Traders take out a rally in Dhanbad on Tuesday. Picture by Gautam Dey
The power situation may have improved in Dhanbad district, but that hasn’t stopped its business community from hitting the streets to keep up the pressure on the authorities to ensure continuous supply.
On Tuesday, hundreds of shopkeepers and entrepreneurs of the coal town shut their shops and establishments to join a two-hour maha dharna at Randhir Verma Chowk under the aegis of Federation of Dhanbad Zila Chamber of Commerce and Industries.
Holding both the state electricity department and Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) responsible for the prolonged power cuts in Dhanbad and Jharia townships last week, the businessmen asked the twin entities to work in tandem to ensure constant supply.
Supported by the common masses, they took out a rally from Bank More and made their way through Puja Talkies Chowk and DRM Chowk before assembling at Randhir Verma Chowk, where they stayed put for more than 2 hours and raised slogans like “DVC hosh mein aon” and “Abhi to angrai hai lambi ladai baki hain”.
The protesters also threatened to launch a bigger agitation, including stopping payment of electricity bills, if forced to live in darkness ever again.
President of the chamber of commerce Rajiv Sharma said: “Soon after we declared that we would be launching a maha dharna, supply of power suddenly started improving in the Coal Belt over the past two days. People are now getting power for more than 22 hours. Still, we decided to go ahead with our agitation to urge the DVC and Jharkhand Urja Vikas Nigam Limited (JUVNL) to maintain constant supply. Or else, we will start following this policy of ‘no power, no payment’, wherein we will not pay power bills for the next two months.”
Other members of the traders’ outfit alleged that while DVC procured coal from Dhanbad mines, it provided the bulk of electricity generated at its plants to Delhi and Bengal.
“This is a step-motherly treatment meted out to lakhs of Coal Belt residents. Both DVC and JUVNL should iron out their differences and find out ways to provide adequate power to Dhanbad,” said a member.
General manager of JUVNL Dhanesh Jha promised to maintain continuous supply. “As DVC is giving us more power over the past couple of days, we have been able to scale up supply. We will try to maintain this supply rate,” he added.
Several pockets of the twin towns of Dhanbad and Jharia had been receiving electricity for only 10 hours a day for over a week because of a drop in power generation at DVC units.