For the third consecutive day, normal life in Shimla continued to remain paralysed as the administration and official agencies failed to restore power and water supply and clear the roads, inconveniencing locals and tourists. Nearly 90 per cent of the town were without power on Monday despite claims of having resorted power in major parts of the town including priority areas such as hospitals. In fact, hospitals were the worst hit as even the generators failed to provide a continuous and interrupted power to ICU units and emergencies. Patients were seen shivering as the power back-up system collapsed during the day.
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Senior Medical Superintendent IGMC, Dr Ramesh Chand admitted that power supply is yet to be restored and power is being provided via generators for emergency purposes. Doctors even claimed that patients were visiting the hospital partially because of road blockades and persistent cold conditions. Amid this crisis, the report of a death of a five-day-old child at Kamla Nehru Hospital, who was on ventilator after a multi-organ failure, has put further big question mark on the medical administration and also the power supply department. The CM has ordered an enquiry into the death of the child.
To add to the woes, tourists who thronged the town to enjoy the snow complained about the lack of power supply. The snow clearance work has no made significant headway as Kufri, a popular tourists spot nearing Shimla, remained cut-off . Moreover, the traffic remained static on the town’s major roads except cart road and there were no vehicular movements beyond Shimla.
With no power supply at ISBT, the HRTC authorities faced difficulties to man the computer-based reservation system and tourists were left high and dry as servers of the reservation counters did not work.
Several restaurants on the Mall road and main market displayed closure notices as they ran out of water supply. “I asked the tourists to vacate the hotel and shut down restaurants as there was no power,” said Sanjay Sood, president of North Zone hotelers’ association. Earlier as well, he took to Twitter asking the Prime Minister how a cashless system can work as there was no power for past 72 hours in the town .
“It is a shame that state capital is in crisis and chaos. Nothing is moving here. There is no power and water and no snow clearance work is being conducted on roads. There is no mobility of traffic beyond Shimla. People are suffering and tourists are stranded ,” said MLA Suresh Bhardwaj.
Taking a note of the crisis, Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh chaired a meeting of top officials at the Secretariat to review the situation. He even sought answers as to why the situation has not normalised several hours after snowfall. There was a lack in the power restoration work and as a result the drinking water supply has been severally affected.
Superintendent of Police, Shimla, DW Negi said the town is packed with tourists and more than 38,000 vehicles had crossed the special police barrier at Shoghi while 35,000 vehicles crossed Parwanoo in just 48 hours.
There was long traffic jams in the town between Taradevi to HPTDC lift because of heavy movement of the tourists with most of them unable to proceed beyond Shimla ,Naldehra,Fagu and Narkanda despite having hotel bookings.
Additional Chief Secretary (power) Tarun Shridhar said the power restoration work as been taken up at a warfooting. “The field staff and officers are working around the clock to restore power supply. Though the main supply has been restored the issue of the internal distribution system in the localities is causing delay,” he said.
Dhumal blames govt
Meanwhile, at Hamirpur ,former CM Prem Kumar Dhumal said the government has failed totally to handle post-snow situation and there seems to be no lessons learnt from a similar situation in Kullu when the police had issued advisory to tourists not to visit Kullu Manali. “We don’t want to drive any mileage out of a natural calamity but now the tourists are questioning the government. Around 90 per cent of Shimla is without power. The situation is miserable in hospitals, at bus stand and in rural areas. Roads are not cleared off snow and restaurants have nothing to serve to tourists.
Rs 25 crore released
Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh Monday reviewed the situation with senior officers and immediately released Rs 25 crores for restoration of roads, electricity and water in the areas which were affected by heavy snow fall in the last three days, said a government release. Virbhadra said that Shimla being the capital of the state should be better prepared than others, in matter of services, being provided by various government agencies. He also asked officers of the electricity department to ensure power supply is restored at the earliest in the state.