Tourism is down in the dumps. Hospitals are running short of beds due to patients with viral and dengue fever, the roads are in a shambles, the civic infrastructure has virtually collapsed and the law and order situation is theatening to erupt into a major crisis in the coming days.
For the next one-and-a-half months, the city will be without power for six hours a day. It could be longer. Private discom Torrent Saturday announced a shutdown schedule for various zones of the city. This has created a scare and forced many well-to-do families to take an early vacation.
"The demand for invertors and diesel generators will obviously pick up. This is also the festival season. Certainly not a good time to cut power supplies," industrialist Rajiv Gupta, former president of Agra's National Chamber of Industries and Commerce, told IANS.
Torrent manager and spokesperson Pankaj Saxena said efforts are being made to reduce the number of hours to three or four from six. The water works and the medical college feeders are being excluded from the supply cut schedule, he added.
But citizens are unhappy because after the rains, "the graph of viral and other types of diseases goes up and you need continuous supply of power to illuminate homes and run fans," activist Naresh Paras said, adding the muncipal corporation was callous and indifferent to the plight of the man on the street.
Officials of the Dakshinanchal Vidyut Nigam Ltd (DVNL), the state government undertaking that supplies power to Torrent for distribution in Agra city, said the supply cut was necessitated to instal a 500 MV transformer at Peeli Pokhar. Once it becomes operational, Agra would be spared daily cuts and breakdowns.
Uttar Pradesh faces an acute power shortage due to generation-bottlenecks, another official explained.
It's not just power that is proving a major hassle for the Agra residents. Due to mismanagement and short-sightedness the Agra Water Works cannot meet the demand for drinking water. Half the city has been without water for several days now. The pumps needed for drawing raw water from the Yamuna river need urgent repairs, said an engineer at the water works.
"Despite good rains and the Yamuna remaining full till a few days ago, the failure to store water and clean up the canal system (means) the city is already in the throes of a major water crisis. The pumps are in bad shape and power breakdowns frequently hamper the supply," NGO functionary Shravan Kumar Singh who presented a memorandum to Deputy Municipal Commissioner K.P. Tripathi on the city's civic problems, told IANS.
Homemaker Padmini and many others like her accuse the state government of poor planning and bad administration.
"Earlier this week, they had the top leadership of the (ruling) Samajwadi Party here. Why did they not take any decision about solving Agra's problems?" Padmini asked.
Eco-activist Ravi Singh feared that air pollution levels could go alarmingly high if diesel generators start running during the power shutdowns. According to industry estimates, the city has at least 100,000 generators. Agra, in fact, is the country's largest manufacturer of diesel generators.
(Brij Khandelwal can be contacted at email@example.com)
--IANS (Posted on 16-09-2013)