What does a 21-year-old software student do when he is forced to live without electricity for four hours everyday? He waits for power to return, logs on to the Internet and gives a cyber call to everybody else in equal despair.
Now Girish Chhabria hopes that those joining his ‘Anti Power Cut-Off’ community on the popular networking website, Orkut, will be able to mobilise public opinion against loadshedding across the state.
Eastern suburbs of Mumbai, areas in Thane, and other cities of Maharashtra are facing between three and a half to 12 hours of loadshedding daily, a “compulsion” according to the State government because of a 5,500 MW shortfall in power supply.
Chhabria, a resident of Thane - which faces about four hours of power-cuts daily - created this community on February 11 to create awareness and share solutions to problems arising due to power cuts. “I started this community so that people who want to do something, or those against power-cuts could gather together,” Chhabria wrote in an email. “Also, according to the Right to Information act, authorities have to answer people’s questions.”
One of the questions Chhabria had was: “If there is electricity shortage, then where did the electricity come from on election day and on the day when votes were counted?”
Chhabria said he was concerned about students appearing for their Class X and XII board exams. “If elections are important, doesn’t (the government) think board exams are also vital?” he asked.
A total of 126 people had joined the community by Tuesday – nine days since its inception. Within a day more, the number touched 160. Members have posted reactions ranging from the helpless to the angry to the cynical.
While some have expressed a desire to thrash those indulging in power thefts, others suggest ‘nobler’ power-saving methods like using power-saver lamps, minimising use of electrical appliances, avoiding using washing machines daily and so forth. Some suggested that the authorities should only put on ‘every alternate street light instead of all of them’.
Then there are the aggressive, politician-bashing messages:
“I think all politicians should be shifted to Kalyan and stay there until they realise the problems residents face,” according to a message posted by a 18-year-old Vini Jain, an arts student from South Mumbai. However, an anonymous message seemed to suggest there is greater controversy at work: “No use sending these politicians to Kalyan,” the entry read. “Every other house has an inverter. I think yeh sab inverter companies in netaon ki mili bhagat hai (I think these politicians have a stake in companies making inverters).”