New Delhi: As the national capital reels under sweltering heat with frequent power outages and water crisis, a Congress delegation led by its Delhi unit chief Arvinder Singh Lovely Monday held Chief Secretary S.K. Srivastava and two other officials hostage for two hours at the Delhi Secretariat here.
The top officials were later allowed to go after Srivastava gave a written assurance to improve the situation.
The Congress leaders, including all its eight elected legislators and senior party leaders, held Srivastava and two others -- Power secretary Arun Goel and Urban Development Secretary Rajendra Kumar -- hostage in the conference room of the Delhi Secretariat which is located in central Delhi.
The leaders had come to meet Srivastava on the issue of water and power crisis. But later, held the other two officials captive too when their answers failed to impress them.
At 45.5 degrees Celsius, Monday was the hottest June 9 in five years and also the hottest day of the season.
A congress leader told IANS that they decided to hold the secretary and other officials hostage as they were not convinced with the reply given to them by the secretaries.
It was at the intervention of other senior secretaries and a written assurance promising to take remedial measures within 24 hours, the Congress leaders let Srivastava and other two secretaries go and agreed to protest outside his office.
"We will protest on the roads, and if needed will also protest outside the prime minister`s residence," Lovely told media.
Officials told IANS that the chief secretary in his letter assured that Delhi`s power supply will be improved within 24 hours, but also noted that it will take close to 25 days to completely restore the power supply to normalcy.
The city is reeling under record sizzling temperatures, and the situation has been made worse by irregular power and water supply.
"We have never seen such irregular power supply. There is no schedule for power cuts for us to prepare accordingly," Abha Sharma, resident of Dwarka in west Delhi said.
"When we are paying our electricity bills on time, then why are we not getting adequate electricity," asked Subhash Kashyap, a member of Mayur Vihar residents welfare association.
Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal said Delhi is facing acute power crisis as it has not invested on its transmission and distribution in the last 10-15 years.
"We have surplus power... I am ready to give as much power as Delhi requires, but Delhi has not invested in the last 10-15 years on transmission and distribution, so the country today, and particularly Delhi, is facing a situation of having power, but not being able to distribute it to the people," said Goyal.
Meanwhile, the Aam Aadmi Party also appealed to the central government and the city administration to not test the patience of the people in this scorching summer.
It said that the protests by people in some parts of the city are a sign of the growing discontentment against the lack of electricity and water.
Delhi Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung Sunday directed the power companies to announce the schedule for power cuts to people in advance and stop electricity supply to malls after 10 p.m.
"Peak load conditions occur in the city between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. and again from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. So, whenever there is less power supply, the power distribution companies will announce a schedule informing people about the timings when electric supply will be cut," Jung said in a statement after he reviewed the worsening power situation in the national capital Sunday.
"Discoms are working out a schedule which will be shared with the public. Also power supply to malls will not be available after 10 p.m.," he said.
The meeting was attended by Srivastava, principal secretary (power), senior officers of Delhi Transco Ltd. and chief executive officers of all discoms.
Delhi faces a shortage of 300 to 400 MW everyday, according to the statement.
In the coming days, if the power and water situation continues to be the same, the political parties, especially the Congress, could make them the point of agitation.