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Monday, Sep 26, 2022

Chandigarh: The Dark Age Descends

The city’s ordeal started Tuesday midnight and was continuing till the filing of this report as the administration failed to restore power. But surprisingly, the VIP sectors housing the bureaucrats such as Sector 16 did not face such power cuts.

Power cut sceduled at several parts of Bengaluru due to maintanence work.

Chandigarh, the first planned city of independent India, faced arguably the longest power outage in its history on Tuesday, not caused by extreme weather but by an administration caught napping despite being forewarned of a 72-hour strike by UT power employees union weeks ago.

It imposed Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) late in the evening but to no avail even as the Punjab and Haryana High Court summoned the chief engineer on Wednesday. Sources said Administration is getting the help of Military Engineering Service (MES), Western Command, Chandimandir, to restore the power supply.

The city’s ordeal started Tuesday midnight and was continuing till the filing of this report as the administration failed to restore power. But surprisingly, the VIP sectors housing the bureaucrats such as Sector 16 did not face such power cuts.

The unprecedented outage led to the GMCH 32 postponing its elective surgeries. There was chaos on the roads as the traffic lights did not function. Water supply to residential areas was affected. The industrial area too had to halt its manufacturing activities. Patients, students and professionals working from home all bore the brunt of this power outage as the administration dilly-dallied. Many elective surgeries in GMCH-32 were postponed. The industrialists pegged the day’s loss at Rs 60-70 crore.

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Meanwhile, around 80 powermen, who had been requisitioned from Punjab, went back in the morning. The administration, which needs 250 to 300 powermen for smooth supply of power, has decided to bring them back to City under police protection.

UT Adviser Dharam Pal doesn’t foresee any solution to the problem in the next 24 hours. “We managed to restore power in some parts, but at least 40 per cent of the area is still dark. I believe the problem will be remain for next 24 hours. After that we will be in the position to restore power throughout Chandigarh”.

Pal also didn’t rule out the sabotage theory. “We tried to convince the powermen that their benefits will not be affected but they were adamant on strike. At this stage, we can not rule out the possibility of sabotage by an insider,” Pal said adding more helpline numbers and control rooms are being set up to tackle the load of complaints.

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Meanwhile, the Advisory Council meeting, chaired by UT administrator Banwarilal Purohit, also took up the issue. Former BJP councilor and Advocate Satinder Singh was tasked with initiating dialogue with the protesting powermen in Sector 17. He informed the powermen that there will be no harm to their jobs, but the latter, who are protesting against the UT administration’s decision to privatise the electricity department, refused to budge.

Residential areas affected

The power went off in the areas under southern and east divisions comprising Sectors 47, 48, 49, 34, 35A, 36, 8, 9, 27, 28, 29, 30, 21, 22, Mani Majra, Hallomajra and Mauli Jagran at 30 minuteds past midnight. The water supply too remained affected with double and triple-storey houses bearing the brunt. “We have run out of water even for routine works,” said Surinder Singla of Sector 44.

Vinod Vashisht, convener, City Forum of Residents Welfare Organizations (CFORWO), termed the power outage as a “colossal failure on part of local MP”. “Life has virtually come to a standstill amid lack of any contingency plan by UT administration. It is a colossal failure on part of local MP. The UT Administration is helpless under central government control,” he said.

Industry on halt, claims Rs 70-cr loss

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More than 80 per cent of the Industrial Area phase-1 and phase-2 witnessed power outage leading to a loss of Rs 60-70 crore on Tuesday. Industry union demanded compensation from the UT Electricity department for their losses. “They must waive one month’s bill. It is an administrative failure. No alternative arrangement for power, as claimed by the electricity department, was made. If the strike is not called off for another two days, the losses will be huge. The units are on a standstill. How are we going to pay wages,” asked Naveen Manglani, president, Chamber of Chandigarh Industries.

Traffic chaos

There was a visible impact of the outage on the roads as power supply to most traffic signals went off. The traffic regulation was put on the manual mode. Over 120 police personnel were deputed to handle the traffic flow. At some junctions, including Shastri Nagar Light point, Sector 35/36 light point, Sector 32/33 light point, the situation become very chaotic.

WFH, online classes suffer

Sushil Kumar of Sector 31, who is currently working from home, rushed to his relative’s house in Mohali to complete his official work. “The inverter at my house gave up in the afternoon. There was not power to charge my phone and laptop,” he said.

Meanwhile, the online classes of the students too were affected. There was no electricity in Punjab Engineering College (PEC) campus since 9am.

Powermen blame wind

Meanwhile, Gopal Dutt Joshi, president, UT Powermen Union, said blamed the winds for disruption of power in Chandigarh. “We never disrupted the supply deliberately. The employees hired from the civic body and neighboring Punjab and Haryana probably are not able to detect and correct the fault,” he said. The political parties, including Congress and AAP, have extended support to the protesting powermen.

MC helpline for water supply

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Executive Engineer Rajinder Singh ( 9872511338) has been made the overall in-charge of the Emergency Control Room. SDE Yashpal Sharma (9872511351), JE Ajay Bhardwaj (9501035370), JE Ashok Kataria (8814884161) will handle Sectors 22, 23, 35 to 43, Attawa, Badheri, Buterla villages, Sector 31, Industrial Area phase-1,2, Ramdarbar, Behlana, Halloamrja Raoiipu Khrud and Makhanmajra. SDE Yashapl Gupta (9872511249), JE Prabhdeep Singh (9463367989) have been assigned Sector 14 to 18, Sector 24, 25, Dhanas Colony, Dadumajra village and colony. Sanjeev Chauhan (9872511359) will handle Sector 1 to 12, 19, 20, 26, Bapu Dham and village Kaimbwala.

 

 

First published on: 23-02-2022 at 04:02:04 am
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