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Power goes off during President Droupadi Murmu’s speech

While main lights in auditorium stopped working, microphone, smaller lights fitted in lectern and air conditioner were functioning

Subhashish Mohanty Bhubaneswar Published 07.05.23, 05:26 AM
President Droupadi Murmu on her way to address the convocation of Maharaja Sriram Chandra Bhanja Deo University in Odisha’s Mayurbhanj district on Saturday

President Droupadi Murmu on her way to address the convocation of Maharaja Sriram Chandra Bhanja Deo University in Odisha’s Mayurbhanj district on Saturday PTI picture

The entire auditorium plunged into darkness for nearly nine minutes when President Droupadi Murmu was delivering her speech at the convocation of the Maharaja Sriram Chandra Bhanja Deo University at Baripada, the headquarters of Odisha’s Mayurbhanj district, on Saturday.

However, Murmu continued with her speech in the dim light coming from the tiny bulbs fitted into the lectern. While the main lights in the auditorium stopped working, the microphone, smaller lights fitted in the lectern and the air conditioner were functioning.


The revenue divisional commissioner (RDC-central) called a meeting to discuss the issue as it snowballed into a major controversy with political parties demanding the resignation of the energy minister.

Despite the power outage, Murmu was unperturbed. She maintained her cool and went ahead with her speech. Without giving a hint of displeasure, she said: “We are now sitting in the dark. We should take darkness and light in right spirit.”

Out of her 25-minute speech, the power outage was for nine minutes. There was pin-drop silence in the hall throughout her speech. Official sources said the power tripped from 11.56am to 12.05pm.

The programme lasted for an hour. After governor Ganeshi Lal invited Murmu to the podium to deliver the keynote address, Murmu started her address. She had almost spoken for four minutes when the lights suddenly went out. She continued with her speech and even asked the audience whether she was audible. She said she was feeling as if she had come to her home by attending the convocation of the university.

Addressing the students, she said: “You must not be a job seeker but a job provider. I am happy to know that the university has an incubation centre. Perhaps, hearing praise of the university, the power is coming and going out of jealousy.”

Vice-chancellor of the university, Santosh Kumar Tripathy, regretted the incident. “Being the vice-chancellor of the university, I apologised for the incident. The generator did not work,” said the VC. The university placed one of the staff of its electricity maintenance department under suspension.

The power distribution company, Tata Power Northern Odisha Distribution Limited (TPNODL), maintained that it was not their fault. There was a constant power supply to the university and the power cut was because of the internal wiring of the university. “There was constant power supply to the university. Even the mike and the ACs were working. The lights went out. It pointed out there was an internal wiring problem in the auditorium itself,” said a lineman of Tata Power.

Sources said the light went off from the panel where the power connection was given. Superintendent of Tata Power Harish Kumar Panda said: “We had made rigorous exercises before the President’s arrival for the last three days. The sudden power trip was because of some problem in the internal wiring of the university.”

Sources said the state government has sought an explanation on the issue from the district administration. The internal wiring of the auditorium was done by the Odisha Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation of Odisha (IDCO).

Mayurbhanj additional district magistrate Rudra Narayan Mohanty said: “We will fix responsibility after the inquiry and action will be taken.”

President of Odisha State Power Consumers’ Association, Panchanan Kanungo, said: “If in the meeting of the President, there was a power trip, one could imagine the condition of the state of affairs of power distribution. We should feel ashamed.”

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