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'Electricity can't kill you; not in this state'
A Ganesh Nadar in Aurangabad |
May 09, 2005 16:41 IST
Nirala Bazaar in Aurangabad was crowded.
The hoardings were off so it was dark on the streets.
The interiors of the shops, however, were bright.
There were three young girls selling cricket bats on the road. They were standing near a transformer when sparks flew and it burst into flames.
As the startled girls fled from the scene, one passer-by said sardonically, "Electricity can't kill you, not in this state."
Aurangabad has been facing four hour power cuts daily and the people are at the end of their patience.
A few shops have generators and the rich have inverters at home.
The poor have to make to with candles and lanterns. Their businesses have been suffering and their childrens' studies are being hit.
Take the case of Dilip Govindram Jawar, who has a STD booth in Jalna town.
Just five years ago loadshedding was unheard of here, he said.
Jawar alleged that the Maharashtra State Electricity Board was mismanaging the power situation.
This year has been the worst, he said, and his business has taken a hit.
Jawar runs his STD phone and billing machine on battery during power cuts while candles light his shop.
People have almost stopped visiting his shop in the dark.
He has been spending Rs 800 a month on electricity bills and another Rs 800 on candles!
Buying a generator in these circumstance is out of the question, he said.
Like Jawar, common people here are struggling to find their own solutions. The government has no solutions for us, most people said.
Take the case of MGM Engineering College in Aurangabad. It is the only college in the city with an inverter in the library. When there is no power in the college and hostel, students go to the library to study.
During the last assembly election the Shiv Sena promised the farmers of Aurangabad free power.
Addressing a meeting, Sena chief Bal Thackeray had said if voted to power the party would give them the promised sop.
The Congress-Nationalist Congress Party combine that eventually came to power actually did!
The new government announced free power to the farmers, which is being blamed for worsening the state's power shortage now.
Ironically, Shiv Sainiks are now agitating against power cuts though in private they admit that free power was their leaders' big idea.
The truth is that the Sainiks are using the power cuts as an agenda in the run-up to panchayat election on June 19.
Political activists and commoners are sceptical about Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh's comment that free power could be reviewed.
Even if he does, they say, Deshmukh would not withdraw it till the panchayat election is over.