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Saturday, July 31, 2021

Punjab: Villages close to CM farmhouse hit by outages, fear for crops

The Indian Express visited several villages located in the vicinity of the Chief Minister’s residence and found that these were as badly hit due to the power outages as other parts of Punjab.

Written by Man Aman Singh Chhina | Chandigarh |
July 3, 2021 5:49:18 am
Farmers transplant paddy at Paroul village, near CM’s farmhouse, Thursday. (Express photo by Man Aman Singh Chhina)

Villages located within radius of a few kilometres from where Chief Minister Amarinder Singh lives in his farmhouse — Mohinder Bagh —near New Chandigarh, are reeling under severe power cuts causing the residents to worry about their paddy crop and also about the health of residents, particularly children, in the area.

The Indian Express visited several villages located in the vicinity of the Chief Minister’s residence and found that these were as badly hit due to the power outages as other parts of Punjab.

Village Paroul is right next to Mohinder Bagh and access to it is tightly controlled by the Punjab Police after some unemployed teachers managed to reach the CM’s residence and hold a protest in front of it. Once inside the village it was common sight to see people resting in the shade and trying to gather whatever succour they could from the faint winds blowing.

“This is how it is for the past week or more. The electricity comes for half an hour and then goes for several hours. And because there is no power there is no water also. Our children are suffering the most in this heat,” said Gurpal Singh.

Further down the road, ‘Dr’ Sukhi, who runs a ‘clinic’ in the village said that the village said that the entire day is spent sitting under shady trees because electricity supply is totally unreliable.

“The situation persists at night too. Sometimes the power is restored at around 4 am, but only for a couple of hours. Please highlight our problem. We thought we would get some respite with the Chief Minister living next doors but it is not so,” he said.
Bant Singh, a farmer living on the road to Chhoti Nangal-Badi Nangal villages was found sitting besides his tubewell amidst paddy crop sown in the fields.

“There is no power during the day. At night, the power department men come and switch off the power from the transformer at midnight. What are we going to do about our crops which need water? We are now solely dependent upon rainfall. Just go a few km down the road to the villages and you will find their situation worse than us,” he said.

Further down the road the villages are located far from the main road and surrounded by hillocks. The CM’s farmhouse is located not very far as the crow flies across those hillocks. There is scant mobile phone signal in this area and if the residents wish to call the complaint centre of Punjab State Power Corporation limited (PSPCL) they would have to first locate a strong signal zone.

“There is no light. There is none in the night also. To whom are we going to complain? The complaint centre of the power department is in Majra (several km away),” says Soma at Chhoti Nangal.

The Sarpanch of Bharonjian village, Narinder Singh, says the power outage issue plagues all villages nearby.

“You can keep visiting as many villages as you want. We are sitting right next to Chandigarh, the capital of Punjab, and this is our condition. My village is located right next to newly carved sectors of New Chandigarh. If there is no power or water supply available then why are new sectors being created,” he asked.

Things are equally bad in areas in New Chandigarh where sectors have been carved out and houses have started coming up by the dozens. Several labourers spoken to at the construction sites complained of scanty power supply.

PSPCL: Pvt plants failed to meet commitment

The Chairman-cum-Managing Director, PSPCL, A Venu Prasad has said the failure of private thermal plants to provide committed supply during the peak season has resulted in the shortage.

Speaking at an interaction with industrialists organised by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Venu Prasad said that there had not been any shortage in the last two years. He added that the delayed monsoon has also caused severe power outages in the state adding to the woes of people.

“In view of the pandemic, work from home and air conditioning demand has increased significantly. Normally, we make arrangements up to 12,500 MW but this year keeping these problems in view, we made arrangements for 13,500 MW. If industry also operates the consumption will definitely cross 15,500 MW or so. However, I am confident that rainfall will improve the situation,” he said.

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