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Home > News > Report

Naxal blackout: Water rationing in Bastar

June 04, 2007 14:51 IST

People in the backward Bastar region in Chhattisgarh have been living in darkness since the last five days after naxals blew up power transmission towers leading to a power blackout. 

Unprecedented blackout in Bastar, Dantewada, Narayanpur and Bijapur districts badly affected functioning in hospitals, iron ore mines, communication system and rail traffic.

The authorities imposed water rationing in Dantewada town at four litres per person per day.

Though hectic efforts were underway to tide over the situation, it would take at least 10 days to restore power supply as the damaged transmission powers were located in dense forest, considered to be the hideout of naxalites active there for about three decades, official sources said. 

Communist Party of India-Maoist cadres blew three high tension transmission towers on May 31. Two days later, the rebels blew up two more 220 KV Bhilai-Barsur high tension transmission structures near Narayanpur, compounding the problems. 

Engineers of Chhattisgarh State Electricity Board were cautious, suspecting that the Maoists might have laid landmines in the area.

National Mineral [Get Quote] Development Corporation had so far suffered production loss of about Rs 80 crore, while normal functioning of Essar Steel [Get Quote] unit in Bastar had been affected, official sources said.

A change in Maoist strategy by targetting vital installations like high tension transmission lines has added to the woes of Bastar tribals, who were trapped in the hostilities between the ultras and the security forces.

"A general alert has been sounded all over the state while security forces have been put on maximum alert in the tribal areas," a police spokesman said in state capital Raipur.

He said security had been beefed up in jails in Bastar region, where Maoist rebels were lodged. A large number of naxalites, languishing in jails in the region, have been shifted to central jail in Jagdalpur.

Chief Minister Raman Singh strongly condemned the Maoists for destroying vital installations, creating hardships to the entire population of four tribal districts.

"I don't understand why the Human Rights organisations are silent over the issue," he said, adding that these very organisations have come out on the streets to protest the arrest of an individual for his alleged links with the Maoists.

Chhattisgarh Pradesh Congress Committee president Charan Das Mahant said the state government has lost its grip over the situation.

He told UNI that considering the seriousness of the situation the state government should have deputed senior ministers and even officials to camp in Bastar to supervise the efforts to restore normalcy.

Though Bastar region was facing naxalite problem for more than three decades, Mahant said, it was for the first time that the situation had turned worse.

"The state government lacks vision. It could have sought emergency assistance from the Centre to deal with the situation," he added.

Chhattisgarh Confederation of Industry Vice-President Pukhraj Bhothara told UNI that the overall situation in Bastar region was fast deteriorating. He said any failure to crush Maoist activities with an iron hand would spell doom for the entire region.

"Some so-called Human Rights and pro-people organisations and a section of media are creating hue and cry. They are not concerned over the blatant violation of Human Rights of the common masses," he alleged.

Adivasi Mahasabha president Manish Kunjam, a former legislator, said normal life in Bastar had been paralysed with Maoists targetting power lines. The rebels, who claim to support the cause of the masses, have done no good to them, he added.

Public Health Engineering Minister Kedar Kashyap, who hails from Bastar region, said the Maoists were resorting to such acts because of frustration at being isolated.