Mrunal Manmay Dash

Unprecedented scenes were witnessed during President Droupadi Murmu’s speech at Maharaja Sriram Chandra Bhanja Deo University in Mayurbhanj’s Baripada on Saturday when her speech was disrupted by power outage.

The whole auditorium in the University plunged into darkness for around nine minutes just after President Murmu began her speech.

While the President did not flinch and continued her speech in darkness with the light coming out of the podium, she showed her displeasure in the most graceful way possible.

Continuing her speech, she said, “The University is as much in the dark as its beauty.”

The power outage was later confirmed by the Odisha Information and Public Relations (I&PR) Department which said, “From 11.56 am to 12.05 pm, power tripped and the whole auditorium was in dark; inconvenience regretted.”

Asked about the outage, Bhaskar Sarkar, CEO of Tata Power North Odisha Distribution Limited (TPNODL) said, “The internal circuitry of the auditorium tripped during President’s speech. Tata Power does not have anything to do with this outage.”

“It does not come under the purview of any DISCOMS. It is under the maintenance of IDCO. We have Diesel generator sets ready for backup too. But the failure of internal circuit made the arrangements useless,” he added.

MSCB University Vice Chancellor, Professor Santosh Tripathy sought apology for the incident. He said, "IDCO had constructed the building and also repaired the generator. Though we had a dedicated generator, it didn't work. We will inquire into the entire incident."

Stark criticism followed after the President of India was forced to deliver her speech in darkness.

Former Odisha DGP, Bipin Mishra said, "I have never ever seen a blackout during President or Prime Minister's programme. Multiple arrangements are made for uninterrupted supply of electricity. It appears that arrangements were not made properly. It's a failure."

“The auditorium was dark for 10 minutes. I think this is an insult for the President. Though the President took the matter gracefully, this is a shame for Odisha,” Pradeep Kumar Nanda, a PhD scholar who received the Doctorate degree from the President today.

Another scholar, Deepak Kumar Behera said, “Power supply gets restored within seconds after a trip even during social functions like marriages. But here at this University, the President of India has to remain in darkness for over 10 minutes. If we can’t provide uninterrupted power supply to even the President of the country then how can we provide the same to common people?”

Nobody is willing to take the responsibility for this disaster and everybody is busy mudslinging at each other. Power failure in the Presidents’ programme lays bare the power infrastructure of Odisha. Not only the country but the whole world saw how did we treat our own President, said Odisha State Electricity Consumers Association President, Panchanan Kanungo.

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