Power woes: Sonia`s whisper stronger than SC order
Agra: All it took for Amethi and Rae Bareli to get uninterrupted power supply was a whisper from UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi to Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.
Amethi is Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi`s constituency while Sonia Gandhi represents Rae Bareli in the Lok Sabha.
In stark contrast, Agra - the number one tourist destination in India - is yet to get 24x7 power supply. This despite a 1993 Supreme Court order for uninterrupted power supply to the city of the Taj Mahal, Fatehpur Sikri and Agra Fort, all world heritage monuments.
Following Sonia Gandhi`s Aug 29 tête-à-tête with Mulayam Yadav in parliament, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav issued orders for round the clock power supply in Amethi.
Akhilesh issued similar orders for uninterrupted power supply to Uttar Pradesh Power Corp Ltd (UPPCL) for Rae Bareli.
His wife Dimple Yadav`s constituency Kannauj, Mulayam`s Mainpuri, the Yadav family`s headquarters Sefai in Etawah and Urban Development Minister Azam Khan`s Rampur are already in the favoured list.
In contrast, Agra is repeatedly hit by power outages.
"There is hardly a house that does not have a generator or invertor," said Agra`s Vijay Nagar colony resident Sudheir Gupta.
In April 2010, the state`s power supply was handed over to private discom Torrent Power Ltd. The company faces daily protests - which at times turn violent - for failing to provide adequate electricity.
"The whole city has risen against Torrent, which has been told to pack up," said Govind Agarwal and Ravindra Pal Singh Timma, leaders of Vyapar Mandal, which has circulated over two lakh pamphlets listing peoples` grievances against Torrent.
Torrent claims the power supply in Agra has improved. "As for inadequate supply and loadshedding, we are helpless as this is done by UPPCL, from whom we purchase power for the city," a Torrent official said.
Industries have also been hit due to frequent power cuts.
The list of woes against Torrent is long: from speeding electronic meters, higher tariff, poor maintenance, frequent loadshedding, arbitrary decisions and high-handedness.
Torrent officials deny these charges. "We are not getting enough power. Infrastructural development in the city is receiving our top attention," a company official said.
"Before the elections, the Samajwadi Party promised Agra will be out of the clutches of Torrent. Why are they dragging their feet now?" asked some business leaders at a meeting held Thursday.
Even as the stand-off between local consumers and Torrent - which has an agreement to supply power to Agra for 30 years (April 2010 till 2040) - continues, what has irked residents most is the step-motherly treatment to Agra by the Akhilesh Yadav government.
"In the government`s perception, Supreme Court directives can be ignored but not a request of Sonia Gandhi," says industry leader Rajiv Gupta.
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