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HindustanTimes Wed,03 Sep 2014

Power failure forces Shillong varsity to close

Rahul Karmakar, Hindustan Times  Guwahati, August 26, 2012
First Published: 22:17 IST(26/8/2012) | Last Updated: 22:19 IST(26/8/2012)

Educational institutions in India face unscheduled shutdowns for a number of reasons. But a Central university in Meghalaya's capital Shillong broke new grounds when it tripped over power failure.

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Last month, North India hit the headlines following a two-day power grid outage. But the North Eastern Hill University (Nehu) has already been without power for six days.

With dark classrooms and no water supply, the university was forced to declare an unscheduled holiday till September 2. But officials say it might take as long as 45 days for power to return to the campus.

On the afternoon of August 20, lightning struck the university's 3MVA transformer. A back-up transformer failed to start.

"On August 22, we purchased a 1MVA transformer for Rs. 15 lakh, but it failed to take the load and crashed," said vice-chancellor AN Rai.

Generator sets proved inadequate.

Repairing the damaged transformer will take at least 45 days, said an official of the university. It would take 90 days and a cost of Rs. 25 crore for a custom-made transformer to reach Shillong.

With no power to illuminate the classrooms - the dense foliage between buildings makes interiors dark even at noon - and run computers and other essential services like water supply, students and research scholars  gheraoed the vice-chancellor on August 24.

The classes were suspended and around 2,500 students and teachers were advised to leave the campus.

"We have shifted to my mother's house but I have been reporting to the hospital, where even the steriliser is not working let alone other power-intensive medical tools. We have been literally groping in the dark," Caroline Mukhim, a doctor at the university's hospital.

While locals have shifted to their own houses or to their relatives', the 70% non-locals are in a dilemma.

"We want a written assurance from the university authorities that they would provide generator, mineral water and candles," said research scholar R Shangpliang.


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