Power crisis in Barak Valley, social organization threatens agitation

SILCHAR: Karimganj Nagarik Manch, a social organization based in the border district of Karimganj, sent a memorandum to the chairman of Assam State Electricity Board (ASEB) on Wednesday seeking a solution to the severe power crisis in the Barak Valley.

A member of the manch said if the situation was not improved immediately they would go for series of agitation days to come. The organization has already decided to stage a dharna in front of the ASEB office in Karimganj on Thursday. Mass meetings and other agitation programmes have been planned for later phases of the stir, added the member.

In a memorandum to ASEB chairman, the manch members said three districts of the Barak Vallley and Karimganj district near Bangladesh border, in particular, have been suffering from power cuts for several days. The situation has affected functioning of industries, including tea gardens, business and normal life in the area.

"People are not getting enough supply of drinking water. The Public Health Engineering department has failed to supply water in the district, including Karimganj, as their pumps are non-functional without power. Hospitals and education institutes too have been affected," the memorandum added.

Meanwhile, the Central Assam Power Distribution Company Limited`s Barak Valley zone general manager Dipankar Nath said the crisis would continue for some more days because of a crunch in supply of power from the load dispatch centre at Kahilipara.

Nath added that supply of power from the distribution centre was much below the requirement. "While the valley needs about 90 MW daily, it has been getting 40-45 MW daily," he said.

Reports from various parts of the valley said irate people attacked ASEB offices and gheraoed deputy commissioners` office. They were unhappy with the lukewarm response of authorities to their problems.

Private sector DLF started two power projects in Banskandi (Cachar) and Adamtila (Karimganj) with a capacity of 15 MW and 9 MW respectively with the help of gas supplied by ONGC from its nearest fields. But after a few years, the gas supply was stopped at Adamtila leading to a shut down of the plant. At Banskandi also the electricity production is on the verge of closure due to continued shortage of supply of gas by ONGC.

Couple of years ago, Bharat Heavy Electrical Limited (BHEL) and Power Finance Corporation and Assam government had signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for setting up a 250 MW thermal power plant at Digarkhal in Cachar district. However, the project is yet to be started.