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Agra on the boil over crippling power cuts

Posted on Aug 20 2014 | IANS

Agra, Aug 20 : Six, eight, ten, 12 and now 16 hours: This is how power cuts in the City of the Taj have progressed in the past few days despite the Supreme Court's directive to the state government to provide uninterrupted power supply to the city to prevent damage to the Taj Mahal from air pollution caused by diesel generators.

All the recent efforts of the government agencies to control air pollution in the city have come to naught as thousands of diesel generators are switched on the moment load-shedding begins. "According to a rough estimate the city has around 50,000 generators. Imagine the extent of emission of noxious gases and the pollution level when all of these are simultaneously switched on," says activist Anand Rai.

Due to technical snags, power generation in the state has fallen to a new low. "Deficient rainfall in the western districts of UP has also added to the power woes," explained an official of the Dakshinanchal Vidyut Vitran Nigam Ltd.

Private discom Torrent that supplies power to the city says it has nothing to do with generation. "Whatever is offered to us from Lucknow is distributed," says Pankaj Saxena, a manager with Torrent.

Parents have demanded closure of schools. Mohit Mathur, an activist of the Bright Organisation, says school hours should be reduced as children are falling sick due to heat.

The water supply has also been hit by the erratic and inadequate power supply, say residents.

Home-maker Padmini says, the inverter "is not much of a relief as it needs to be recharged."

Hotels too are now feeling the heat. "How long can we run the ACs on generators. There have been power cuts every two hours," complains hotelier Rakesh Chauhan.

Business associations and the National Chamber of Industries and Commerce have protested against the power cuts. Work in industries has come to a halt. The chamber has written to the state government asking why fixed charges should be paid when supply is not regular.

The chemists' association has complained that medicines in their stocks were spoiling as the cold chain was disturbed due to long hours of power cuts.

At the political level, the politicians are shying away from facing the public. They have no quick fix solutions.

"Past governments failed to invest heavily in power generation or in creating additional capacity, now we are facing the consequences," said Samajwadi Party leader Rahul Chaturvedi in Agra.

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