Nearly 20 days since Cyclone Nisarga’s landfall in Raigad district, some homes and commercial establishments continue to remain without power supply, as authorities tackle the damage caused to electricity infrastructure. From buying and renting generators or paying money to charge their cellphones, many villages in the district are still waiting to return to a normal life.
Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL) officials said that according to their assessment, power supply was affected in 2,277 villages of Raigad due to damage to electricity poles, feeder lines and sub-stations. As many as 1,500 technicians, engineers and other staff, have been involved in fixing the supply with workers called in from across the state – including districts like Gondia and Aurangabad.
While nearly 90 per cent of the work has been completed, restoration work in nearly 500 villages is underway, officials said.
In Chaul and Nagaon areas of Alibag, where many homes lost power supply on June 3, when the cyclone had made a landfall, local residents took it upon themselves to restore electricity.
“We waited for two weeks and realised it may take much longer. Without electricity, it was impossible to get water pumped to the tanks. We had not charged our phones for days… Last week, 20 to 25 of us decided to get together. We were assigned one technician by the supply company,” said Jayant Nagvekar, a resident.
The group dug roads and erected poles, which were then installed by the technician. Nagvekar said that after five days of work, the supply was restored.
In the initial days, local residents traveled to the city area of Alibag to charge their inverter batteries, many also rented generators at Rs 1,500 per hour. Residents said that now, the rent has gone down to Rs 500 per hour, with power supply resuming in many areas.
Karishma Palekar, a resident of Nagaon, said that while electricity was restored to her home three days ago, power supply to her shop of dairy products and frozen meat continues to remain affected. Her other concern is that while she does have an insurance policy, the company has told her that she may not be reimbursed for the damages. “We were told that since the products in my shop got damaged due to lack of electricity and was not directly related to the cyclone, it will not be covered,” she added.
In Shrivardhan and Harihareshwar — areas known for their beaches and are dependent on tourism — the cyclone has only aggravated the financial crisis caused by the lockdown.
Residents said that in many areas, those without the means to buy or rent generators, depended only on candles, which too soon ran out of stock. “In some areas, those with generators asked for Rs 300 for half an hour to charge water pumps. One had to pay Rs 30 to charge cellphones,” a resident of Shrivardhan said.
Once the roads were cleared, relatives from neighbouring districts traveled to the cut-off areas with power banks and other supplies. Last week, a power sub-station was installed in the area with the supply expected to be restored in all parts by next week. “With 1,500 of our staff working 18 hours a day, we have been able to restore supply in most parts. But there were many challenges due to the extent of damage to the poles, feeder lines and sub-stations,” an official of MSEDCL said.
While district authorities have begun conducting panchnamas to ascertain damage to property for compensation, residents said that the damage to full-grown betelnut and coconut trees will set them back economically by at least a decade.
DICCI adopts Ambedkar’s village hit by cyclone
Mumbai: Ambadave, the native village of Dr B R Ambedkar in Ratnagiri district which was badly hit by Cyclone Nisarga, is set for a facelift. The Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DICCI) has decided to adopt the village. At its board meeting, DICCI passed a resolution to not only provide relief and rehabilitate the villagers but also work towards making it economically self-reliant.
“When we learnt about the havoc in Ambadave, our organisation decided to reach help. Then it occurred that relief would be a temporary process. Permanent help would be to utilise our organisational strength to transform this non-descript village into becoming economically self-reliant. Empowerment of villagers irrespective of caste or community would be an ideal model of economic upliftment,” said DICCI chairman Milind Kamble.
DICCI will coordinate with the Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Technical University (BATU) and the Khadi Village Industries Corporation (KVIC). ENS
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