Patna: Acute power shortage coupled with soaring mercury has sparked protests in many parts of Bihar, some hot-headed protesters Saturday blocking roads, ransacking electricity board offices, and holding an official hostage.
Hundreds of people were protesting in over a dozen districts, including Muzaffarpur, Bhagalpur, Purnia, Kishanganj, Gaya and Saharsa, since Friday morning.
"People in Saharsa, Kishanganj, Purnia and Muzaffarpur blocked roads, burnt tyres and ransacked BSEB (Bihar State Electricity Board) offices during protests Saturday morning," a police officer said.
The issue rocked the Bihar assembly Friday. Many legislators, including Bharatiya Janata Party`s (BJP) Amerendra Pratap Singh, cautioned the state government that there was a serious danger of law and order if power supply was not restored.
Singh admitted that power shortage has led to widespread resentment among the people.
In Bhagalpur, angry people, largely women, Friday held a BSEB engineer hostage for over three hours.
With the mercury soaring above 37 degrees Celsius in Patna and many other districts, people were trying to beat the heat with hand fans and wet napkins.
Millions of people in major parts of Bihar are being forced to live in the lantern age due to a severe power crisis. The state is facing a deficit of around 1,000-1,200 MW of power a day, officials said.
Capital city Patna is an exception of sorts, but most small towns and district headquarters are reeling under acute power outages.
According to BSEB officials, the crisis is due to the shutdown of three units at Talcher power plant in Orissa and one unit at Kahalgaon, near Bhagalpur.
Hareram Pandey, a BSEB official, told IANS: "The state is dependent on central grid for power. If any supply of power is reduced, it badly hits Bihar."
He said the state`s own electricity generation was just 45-50 MW from its two thermal power units at Barauni in Begusarai and Kanti at Muzaffarpur district.
Bihar requires some 1,800-2,000 MW of power a day but it is getting only 600-650 MW from the central pool, despite a daily allocation of 1,646 MW.
The situation is particularly grim in Muzaffarpur, Bhagalpur and Saharsa which faces power cuts of over 24 hours at a stretch.
People in Gaya, a Budhhist pilgrimage and an international tourist centre, get electricity for only four to five hours a day.
BSEB officials said their offices have become a soft target of people`s anger.