South Bengal State Transport Corporation, the state-owned passenger transport major, finally has terminated the controversial agency’s contract, accused of siphoning Rs 7.19cr from its e-ticketing system since 2014.
Ten days have passed since the extremely severe cyclone Amphan ravaged South and North 24-Parganas, East Midnapore, Howrah and Kolkata on 20 May evening, but many areas under the distribution network of West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd (WBSEDCL) still remain without electricity amidst sweltering heat alternating with regular spells of rains and thunderstorms.
The affected locals in these areas do not know when the normal power supply will be restored. Neither could officials in the state power department and WBSEDCL till this evening give any assurance about when power supply will come back in the cyclone-hit districts.
“Frankly speaking, we are also in dark about when normal power supply will be restored in districts like South and North 24-Parganas, East Midnapore, Howrah and Hooghly. Trees and electric poles have been uprooted along long stretches of hundreds of kilometres in these districts, snapping electricity lines. It will take at least another 15 days to restore normal services,” said a senior official of the power department at a time when the state secretariat claimed that restoration of electricity in the cyclone-affected rural Bengal is making progress.
The state power minister Mr Sovandeb Chatterjee was not available for comment. “How long will we wait to get power supply back since the nightmare evening of 20 May when the cyclone hit with wind speed of around 170 kmph ravaging our village? Since then we are spending gruelling days without electricity and severely disrupted water supply,” said Raghunath Halder, a septuagenarian resident of Ramkrishnapur village in Bishnupur area of South 24 Parganas district.
“Amphan has uprooted several trees and electric poles that have left the area under the cover of darkness for the past 10 days. It becomes unbearable without lights and fans for so long and food items stored in refrigerator have gone bad. But no one from the ruling party is seen to redress our grievances,” said Mrs Sikha Ghosh, a homemaker.
Villagers in Mograhat area of the same district alleged that many people are falling sick because of no electricity for so many days. “Neither the local political representative like MLA nor officials of the state electricity board is active to restore the supply. We have never had to spend such a long harrowing period living in darkness,” said Mr Sudhir Pal of Dhamua village in the district.
Mr Prasanta Pramanik of Uttar Tentultala village of Ramnagar in East Midnapore said: “Every day the state electricity board officials are giving us false assurance saying electricity will come back soon. But nothing has been done so far even 10 days since the cyclone.
Elderly people, children and even pregnant women are getting sick amidst the lockdown against the Covid-19 outbreak.” Mr Jay Prakash Majumder, senior BJP leader, said that chief minister Miss Mamata Banerjee is silent on WBSEDCL though the districts still remain in darkness without power for so many days, but has been scathing on the private power utility, CESC, trying to make it a scapegoat.
“Where is power minister Sovandeb Chatterjee when thousands of people in the districts are still living without electricity? The chief minister is reluctant to take action against the state electricity authorities because WBSEDCL is a government undertaking. The state administration is on the verge of collapse,” he said.