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The key to power is, well, power

Power cuts have changed lives dramatically in the eastern suburb, a new assembly constituency. In Bhandup, chronic power shortage could be the issue on which this election hinges reports Soubhik Mitra.

mumbai Updated: Oct 07, 2009 01:58 IST

A hip wi-fi music system has been on Bhagyesh Bhave’s shopping list for a year. But the 30-year-old banker has been struggling to get it into his drawing room.

Not because it’s beyond his budget, but because a power inverter ate into the Rs 14,000 he had kept aside for the dream purchase.

Power cuts have changed lives dramatically in the eastern suburb, a new assembly constituency. Every day, 2,82,000 voters like Bhagyesh wake up to a mad race to finish their daily chores before the power supply is switched off for four hours.

Every day, Bhagyesh and his wife Shweta (29), an information technology professional, make a time-chart to heat water, iron clothes and prepare breakfast.

“We discuss power cuts for at least 30 minutes at the dinner table every day,” he said. What angers him is that just 10 km away the problem does not exist.

“A person staying in Kanjurmarg, a five-minute drive from my house, is not affected. Why this step-motherly treatment towards me?” rues Bhagyesh.

Power shortages in Bhandup and Mulund have pushed several industries and small-scale units to the edge. There were 12,380 industrial establishments in Bhandup providing employment to 36,921 locals.

“Many units laid off staff because the number of man hours available for production are less,” said Anmol Bhushan, of People Power of Nation, a local social organisation.

Double standards are common in civic infrastructure too. The Bhandup stretch of LBS Marg — the second busiest road connecting the eastern suburbs to the city and home to some of the plushest malls and sky-rises — is a nightmare.

Public relations professional Ankeet Dave (31) takes only 30 minutes to get to Kanjurmarg from his Lower Parel office, but wastes nearly double that time to get home to Bhandup from Kanjurmarg. “Getting past the bottleneck opposite the railway station is a nightmare,” said Dave. “I take over one-and-a-half hours to get to work every day and run up a fat fuel bill every month,” he said.

“Power cuts and civic infrastructure are top of my agenda,” said Sunil Raut, the Shiv Sena candidate and the only local resident among the contestants.