Bowing to protests by traders and Opposition parties,the UP government on Monday withdrew its order to force malls and shops to close at 7 pm and restaurants at 10 pm in view of the current power shortage in the state.
A statement said the Labour departments order,issued on Sunday,had been withdrawn with immediate effect.
This means,malls,shops and restaurants in the state particularly those in Ghaziabad and Noida where a large section of people from Delhi go to shop and eat will function normally.
The government said Sundays order was issued keeping in mind the problems in electricity supply and intense heat,and that it would provide relief to the public and farmers of the state. The government had threatened action against those who violated the restrictions.
The climbdown came after traders demonstrated in the state capitals main shopping centre of Hazratganj and other parts of the state,and walkouts by the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party in the Assembly.
There were also conflicting statements as Parliamentary Affairs Minister Azam Khan told the Assembly that the power curfew wasnt an order but a suggestion,while PWD Minister Shivpal told reporters that the government was in no position to supply power to malls and shops after 7 pm.
BJPs Satish Mahana raised the issue in the Assembly through an adjournment notice,saying the order had sent a wrong message about the state. Referring to the hot weather,he said: People these days go to market after 6 pm,but the government has ordered that shops should close by 7 pm. Who will go shopping in the scorching heat of the afternoon?
Khan explained that the government had only made a suggestion to regulate power supply to malls and restaurants because the current dry spell has hampered electricity production. He said the Labour department was trying to ensure that the suggestion was followed.
Unhappy with the ministers reply,BJP Legislature Party leader Hukum Singh said the government should purchase additional power to meet the demand. He insisted that that government should assure the House that no action would be taken against those who disobeyed the curfew. If needed,the government could fix 9 pm as closing time for shops,he added.
After making its point,the BJP members staged a walkout. The Congress followed suit a few minutes later.
Away from the Assembly debate,PWD minister Shivpal Singh Yadav in his office told newspersons that the restrictions have been imposed for only 15 days because we cant supply power after 7 pm. We will gradually extend it to 8 pm,then 9 pm and even 10pm, he said.
Blaming the previous BSP government for the crisis,he said only 9,000 MW of power was available in the state and it had to be used judiciously.
The UP Power Corporation Limited said the state has a shortfall of about 2,000 MW. This has affected water supply in rural areas,it added.