Power cuts return to haunt Congress in MP
Fifteen years after it was ousted from power in Madhya Pradesh on the issues of “bijli, sadak, pani” (power, roads, water), unscheduled power cuts are back to haunt the Congress.
Having returned to the state’s helm only last December and desperate to turn the tables on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the Lok Sabha elections, the Congress has blamed “BJP-minded officers and employees” of the energy department for the situation.
There have been reports of unscheduled power cuts from various parts of the state in the past couple of months. The Congress got alarmed when BJP leaders started attributing these power cuts to the “Return of Mr Bantadhar”, a tag attached to Digvijaya Singh to showcase his rule of 10 years from 1993-2003 vis-à-vis that of the BJP from 2003-2018.
As many as seven employees of the energy department were suspended in the last fortnight across the three power distribution companies in the state, according to department officials who did not wish to be named. The energy department authorities have instructed all power distribution companies to ensure power is not cut without prior information to consumers.
The managing director of MP Power Management Company Ltd, Sukhbir Singh, said, “Instructions have been issued that there should not be unscheduled power cuts. Action has been taken against employees in certain places who were not following laid-down procedures. The authorities are visiting power sub-stations too for inspection.”
He added that “since there is no shortage of power in the state, there is no question of any unscheduled power cuts.”
According to an energy department officer who did not want to be named: “The department authorities are keeping tabs on every unscheduled power cut they come to know of through the department or public representatives . They immediately talk to the authority concerned to find out why the power supply was cut off -- was it a case of breakdown or was there any other reason behind the power cut?”
The official said the demand for power in the state was about 8,100 MW per day and the generation was approximately 8400 MW per day. All consumers, whether domestic, commercial or industrial, are supposed to get 24x7 power supply. Agriculture consumers are supposed to get 10 hours power supply every day.
Prior to the 2003 assembly elections, the state had seen unprecedented power cuts that went on for hours. Riding the wave of resentment, the BJP dislodged the then Congress government which had ruled for 10 years, reducing the latter to a minority of a mere 38 seats in the 230-seat assembly.
State Congress spokesperson Bhupendra Gupta said: “There are certain BJP-minded officers and employees in the system who are creating these troubles. There is no reason for unscheduled power cuts.”
State BJP spokesperson Rajneesh Agrawal said: “The unscheduled power cuts are nothing but the outcome of mismanagement and bad governance of the Kamal Nath government. The misrule of the then Digvijaya Singh government has returned to harass people of Madhya Pradesh in the form of the Kamal Nath government.”