Protest against acute power shortage continues in Bihar

March 27th, 2011 - 6:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Patna, March 27 (IANS) The protest against acute power shortages continued in Bihar Sunday for the third consecutive day with angry people blocking roads, ransacking electricity board offices and burning rubber tyres, police said.

Hundreds of people in Sheikhpura, Saharsa, Muzaffarpur and Bhagalpur districts protested and reports of sporadic incidents reached here.

“Angry people took to the roads to protest against lack of power. People forced a shutdown in Sheikhpura town and attacked and ransacked electricity offices in Sheikhpura and Saharsa,” a police officer said.

Bihar Energy Minister Bijendra Prasad Yadav Saturday made it clear that the power situation cannot improve unless Bihar’s own generation and central allocation is increased substantially.

Acute power shortage coupled with soaring mercury has sparked protests in over a dozen districts, including Muzaffarpur, Bhagalpur, Purnia, Kishanganj, Gaya and Saharsa, since Friday.

Bhagalpur witnessed violent protests Friday and Saturday when angry people, including women and children, forced shutdown of the town and pelted stones at vehicles of district officials and police.

“Some protesters attacked public property, set ablaze vehicles of the electricity department and ransacked its offices,” a police officer in Bhagalpur said.

The issue rocked the Bihar assembly Friday and Saturday. Many legislators, including those of the ruling Janata Dal-United (JD-U) and its ally Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), raised the issue and demanded the government to do something.

Yadav was forced to make a statement in the state assembly that the government was helpless as power supply to Bihar is mainly dependent on the central grid.

With the mercury soaring above 37 degrees Celsius in Patna and many other districts, people were trying to beat the heat with hand fans and wet napkins.

The state is facing a deficit of around 1,000-1,200 MW of power a day, officials said.

According to Bihar State Electricity Board officials, the crisis is due to the shutdown of three units at the Talcher power plant in Orissa and one unit at Kahalgaon, near Bhagalpur.

Bihar requires some 1,800-2,000 MW of power a day but it is getting only 700-750 MW from the central pool, despite a daily allocation of 1,646 MW.

The situation is particularly grim in Muzaffarpur, Bhagalpur and Saharsa which face power cuts of over 24 hours at a stretch.

People in Gaya, a Budhhist pilgrimage and an international tourist centre, get electricity for only four to five hours a day.

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