Power breakdowns spark riots in UP; 18 arrested
Eighteen people were held as protestors attacked electricity stations and Govt officials over frequent power cuts.india Updated: May 06, 2006 15:51 IST
Eighteen people were arrested as protestors attacked electricity stations and government officials over frequent power cuts amid soaring temperatures in northern India, police said on Saturday.
Residents across Uttar Pradesh state took to the streets late on Friday, damaging government offices and clashing with officials after going without power for up to 14 hours, as temperatures crossed 40 degress Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit).
"At least 18 people have been arrested for power riots from different parts of the state," Ghulam Abbas, police spokesman said on Saturday in the state capital Lucknow.
In Lucknow, many people stayed up the entire night waiting for electricity.
"We could not sleep the whole night. We stayed awake waiting for the electricity, but it did not come," housewife Mini Banerjee said.
Some others slept in air-conditioned cars.
"Children were crying. We made them sleep in the car with AC on," said Rukmani Sharma.
In Kanpur city, residents offered prayers to a deity revered as the goddess of power.
Officials blamed the cuts on soaring demand because of the temperature.
"The state gets 5400 MW of electricity against its requirement of 6200 MW. This paucity of 800 MW of electricity is leading to frequent power cuts," said Akhilesh Singh, a senior engineer with Uttar Pradesh Power Corp Ltd.
Three power units broke down because of mechanical failure, adding to the paucity, officials said.
The riots broke out shortly after the New Delhi government issued orders to offices and industries in the Indian capital to save electricity to cope with increasing demand.
Offices in New Delhi were told to unplug air-conditioners at 6:30 pm and shops ordered to shut down at least once a week.
The warning came as India's Supreme Court asked the city and federal governments to say within two weeks what steps they would take to improve the power situation in New Delhi.