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Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar: Forty eight hours have gone by. The State Capital, Bhubaneswar, is yet to limp out of its dark age bequeathed by the extremely severe cyclone Fani. Four grids in the Capital city are yet to be charged. CESU is not ready to hazard a guess on when would the power supply in the city could be restored.

While the CESU looks clueless, Capital city denizens are seemingly in panic. As the mobile towers in the Capital city have no power supply, the communication network in capital city has gone kaput.

This has led to panic striking more among city population. And despite most mobile networks having turned dysfunctional, the rate race for charging mobiles at every nook and corners of the Smart City hints at the brewing crisis in the city.

Moreover, fearing this plug-out to remain for a longer haul,  denizens make a beeline at a few petrol filling stations open in the city only to procure diesel to feed their DG sets. Also, prices of DG sets available on rent have shot over the roof. They charge a hefty sum of around 1,000 to 2,000 per hour to reap handsome bucks; whereas the normal day charge was only Rs 500/hour.

Such a lingering 24X7 plug out that has affected adversely the water supply to every individual - from slum dwellers to apartment dwellers, communication network etc could lead to a volcanic eruption scenario, provided the state of power stupor linger for over 72 hours in the capital city. The hot summer is acerbating the water crisis further to a gigantic proportion.

According to Energy Secretary Hemant Sharma, the total power infra like electric poles etc taking a hit by Fani is estimated at around 10,000. Data with Cesu reveals extensive damage to some 440kv substations by torpedoing winds of Fani. Half a dozen 220kv substations have also suffered huge damage.

Significantly, the four grids in the Capital are yet to be charged. Cesu has a plan to restore 220kv substations to resume power supply to vital areas viz industrial areas, hospitals and Secretariat. Sources said the around 165kmph gusting wind speed had caused severe bus and earth faults which in turn damaged the substation equipments, transformers etc.

Though the Energy department had set a target to cover 25 per of the Capital city every 24 hours, it seems the target is missed by yards every 24 hours.

According to Subrat Mishra, senior manager, Cesu, it has deployed around 1,500 personnel to carry out restoration work at war footing.  Significantly, Mishra outlined lack of telecom network proving a stumbling block in coordination that hampers restoration work.

Post HudHud, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has issued guidelines for cyclone disaster mitigation, where it asked all cyclone susceptible States, including Odisha, to provide wireless sets to power restoration workers to eradicate communication and coordination gap.  It had also asked the cyclone vulnerable States to trim down tree branches that pose danger to power infra within 1-hour after receiving early warning. NDMA had also asked Odisha to conduct regular mock drills  on power restoration work post hit by a cyclone.

But it seems Odisha Government has not learnt these significant lessons from NDMA class on disaster reduction. The result: Odisha's Capital city sunk to dark ages.

The blackout is not only haunting the State Capital, such acute power crisis is seen in Khurda, Jatani, Balugaon, Begunia and Bolagarh. And energy department engineers hint at a fortnight's time to see restoration of power supply to the areas.

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