Premier NE university crippled by power failure

No power since Aug 19 after lightning; water crisis on campus

Written by Samudra Gupta Kashyap | Guwahati | Published: August 26, 2012 1:55 am

The reason might appear simple,but the North-East Hill University (NEHU) in Shillong,the oldest university among the hill states in the region,has remained crippled and shut since August 19 following the breakdown of a 3-MVA transformer that apparently is beyond repair and does not have a spare even in Guwahati. A resultant severe water crisis has hit not just the 22 hostels but a total of about 4,000 people living on the campus.

“It has been a serious crisis. We had to suspend classes till September 3,before which we expect the power connection to be restored,” vice-chancellor Prof AN Rai told The Sunday Express.

The transformer’s breakdown has been attributed to a huge lightning strike — the NEHU campus in Shillong is located in a lightning-prone area — which in turn triggered off a water crisis as pumps and even water filters stopped working last Sunday.

The authorities,however,have not closed down the 22 hostels with vice-chancellor Prof Rai saying it would be difficult for the inmates to go home “because most of them hail from different states of the region.”

“What is surprising is that the university has a spare 3-MVA transformer that has remained unrepaired since it was damaged,again by lightning,in December,” said Prof AK Baruah,who also heads the joint action committee that has complained of utter negligence and administrative failure leading to the crisis.

“While the local GEC vendor said it would take 45 days to repair the transformer,we purchased one 1-MVA transformer from another firm in Guwahati and installed it on Wednesday,but that too broke down within a few hours. We are working on setting up a new transmission line directly from the Meghalaya SEB,which hopefully should be able to supply some power by Sunday,” Prof Rai said.

NEHU being an important centre of bio-technology research,the authorities are also facing an uphill task in maintaining up to — 20 degree C temperature in several of its labs. “Luckily,most departments have their own gen-sets. But they can’t run round the clock,” admitted the VC.

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