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No power, water to cool public rage

With incessant power cuts, water scarcity and no signs of the heat letting up, public anger spilled onto streets in many places in Delhi. Neelam Pandey reports.

delhi Updated: Jun 27, 2009 00:24 IST
Neelam Pandey

With incessant power cuts, water scarcity and no signs of the heat letting up, public anger spilled onto streets in many places in Delhi.

“We had no electricity for nearly seven hours. We had to put our kids to sleep in the car after switching on the AC,” said SS Chauhan, a resident of Dwarka’s Sector 14.

Residents held up traffic, barged into the offices of private power distribution companies and even beat up personnel manning complaint centres.

In Dwarka’s Sector 4, residents attacked a BSES Rajdhani linesman on Thursday night. The last time such incidents were reported was over seven years ago in the pre-privatisation Delhi Vidyut Board era.

“The complaint office at Sector 4 has shifted to Sector 12 and I used to sleep at night in the old office. Around 11.45 pm, a group came to this office thinking it was functional. When they didn’t find anyone, they beat me up. They said jab tak light nahi aeygi tumhe maarte rahenge (We will thrash you till electricity supply is restored),” said Mohammed Habib, a supervisor. A resident who recognised Habib rescued him.

“I might have been killed,” he said.

Residents said the anger was more because calls to complaint centres yielded no response.

Things are so bad that staff at many complaint centres are choosing to leave their posts unmanned at night. “We can’t risk our lives,” said Himanshu Savarn at the BSES Sector 13 centre in Dwarka. “Our office has been ransacked by residents a number of times.”

Savarn said they took all calls and were able to handle queries when the fault was local. But if there is a problem in the grid, they are powerless.

Areas facing acute water shortage also saw public rage.

About 50 people broke open the gates of the Delhi Jal Board office in Paharganj to protest against water shortage, while residents blocked traffic in west Delhi’s Tilak Nagar around midnight on Friday to protest against power cuts.

In Paharganj, protestors also blocked Deshbandu Gupta Road, while people damaged two Blueline buses and a DTC bus in Tilak Nagar, besides ransacking the local BSES office.