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36-Hour major power outage in Chandigarh, water supply disrupted, hospitals hit

By Ruchi Upadhyay 
Updated Date

Chandigarh: Blackout in Chandigarh, majority of Chandigarh is left without electricity and lakhs of people have been left without water for more than 36 hours after a major power outage following a three-day strike by electricity department workers.

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Thousands of homes have been without power and water supply since Monday evening and traffic lights are not working in many areas in the city. Government hospitals have rescheduled surgeries.

The Chandigarh Health Services Director Dr Suman Singh told sources: “We have a backup plan like we have generators. But you cannot put 100 per cent load of a hospital on a generator. So, we had to reschedule or postpone our planned surgeries.”

The power cut has also shut down online classes and coaching institutes.

The electricity workers are protesting against the privatisation of the electricity department. Union Territory Advisor Dharam Pal held a meeting with the powermen’s union to persuade them to call off the strike, but there is no resolution so far.

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The protesting employees fear privatisation will change their service conditions and lead to a rise in power tariffs.

On Tuesday evening, the Chandigarh administration on Tuesday evening enforced the Essential Services Maintenance Act, banning strikes by the electricity department for six months.

Officials of the Chandigarh administration claimed they had made arrangements to maintain power supply, but residents and traders in many areas of the city complained of outages.

Power cuts have also hit industrial production and manufacturing at some units in the city.

The Punjab and Haryana High court intervened yesterday and has summoned the Union Territory’s Chief Engineer on Wednesday.

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Justices Ajay Tewari and Pankaj Jain of the High Court directed the Chief Engineer to inform them of measures being taken to alleviate the power crisis in Chandigarh.

“It has been brought to our notice that power supply to large parts of the city of Chandigarh has been disrupted. In the circumstances, we are constrained to take up this matter on the judicial side and have consequently requested the learned senior standing counsel, UT, Chandigarh to apprise us of the arrangements which the administration is making to ensure that undue hardship is not caused to the residents of the city,” the court order said.

The Chandigarh administration’s lawyer Anil Mehta told the judges that “the power failure is on account of acts of sabotage by the striking employees”.

He said Punjab and Haryana had been asked to loan their power workers to help tide over the crisis.

The court noted the lawyer’s statement that Punjab has “expressed its inability to send any person on deputation”.

“This court cannot be oblivious of the fact that disruption of electricity supply is not only affecting the ordinary residents but may affect institutions like hospitals where patients may be on ventilators and other life support systems. Apart from that there are online examinations and classes which students are taking. In many cases, virtual hearing has been disrupted in this court also because lawyers are not able to appear due to the fact that there is no electricity in their offices. In such situations, the disruption of electricity supply can cause irrevocable damage,” said the order.

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