|Friday, January 7, 2000,
industry, train services come to a standstill as region
reels under massive power breakdown
CHANDIGARH, Jan 6 The prestigious Shatabdis plying on various sectors in Northern India came to a screeching halt at about 10.08 a.m. as there was a major power breakdown in the region.
It was not only the train services alone which were affected by the breakdown even the power supply to essential services like operation theatres in hospitals, including prestigious Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, also remained disrupted for almost two hours this morning .
The power grid has been working at the brink, and any slight disturbance makes it conk off, remarked a senior electrical engineer, who was involved in monitoring the subsequent restoration system.
Because of the cascading effect of the tripping, the generation died down at all BBMB plants, PSEB plants in Punjab and others in the region.
The major impact of the breakdown was taken by the general public which had to do without power supply in the city for varying periods of five to 10 hours. Emergency services were partially restored after two hours.
The power supply also remained suspended to several research institutions, including Institute of Microbial technology, Central Scientific Instruments Organisation and Panjab University.
At one stage, the officials of the electricity wing of the Engineering Department of the Administration were in a quandary as whether to treat restoration of power supply to Panjab University campus as emergency services or not. Their problem was that initially when the power supply was somewhat restored after Dhulkot came on line, they did not want to overload the system so as to avoid tripping again.
Though the tripping of the northern grid has become a routine, it was slightly embarrassing for the officials of the Engineering department as the Administrator, Lieut-Gen JFR Jacob (retd), arrived with no electricity anywhere today.
The consumption of Chandigarh during the month of December has been 643 lakh units, which comes to about 21 to 22 lakh units a day. The consumption has been correspondingly more during the first six days of the New Year because of the severe cold wave and foggy conditions.
In the city the traffic lights remained off for most of the day today. Hotels, restaurants, too, suffered because of the shutdown. The working of nursing homes, private clinics, radio-diagnosis centres, health care and cardiac centres, too, was affected. Only those with generators did some business.
The life in the city apart, the worst hit were the train services. Since most of the sectors in Northern Railways are electrified, all trains operating on electrified routes came to a screeching halt immediately after power breakdown.The trains which had already been running two to several hours behind schedule because of fog and poor weather conditions were further delayed till the power supply to the entire system was restored almost after two hours.
Also badly hit was the continuous process industry, including furnaces which need uninterrupted power supply. The Federation of Small Scale Industries of Chandigarh has reacted sharply to the major power breakdown today saying that there has been considerable deterioration in the power supply during the past 10 days. Mr Rajeev Gupta, General Secretary of the Federation, says that during past 10 days, the power breakdowns lasted 30 to 36 hours.
Normal life, too, remained affected by power failure.
PANCHKULA: Life was thrown out of gear with electricity to the whole township going off without any prior announcement. The Electricity Department failed to rise to the occasion and there was no sign of supply till late in the night.
Even as the sun played truant and there was little light outside, work at the mini secretariat carried on at a snails pace with most employees availing the opportunity to skip office and warm their hands at the small fires dotting the adjacent ground. It was an uncomfortable day for the patients in the General Hospital, Sector 6, also as they shivered under the low temperature.
Today being the second coldest day of the decade, residents had to make do without the comfort of the electronic gadgets which are a blessing in such weather. Mrs Sukhraj Kaur, a resident of Sector 9, says, Added to the inconvenience of the cold weather is the discomfort of carrying on the daily chores without electricity. Managing during the day is still better but the night is terrible. Repeated phone calls to the Electricity Department have not paid off and there is no information on when the electricity will be restored.
Mr Kapil Verma, residing in Sector 16, said that the department must tap alternative energy supply from adjoining areas to meet such exigencies. It does not speak very well of the department if they cannot arrange for supply after over 12 hours have lapsed, even if the respite comes for a couple of hours only, he opines.
Superintending Engineer of the Uttar Haryana Bijli Vitran
Nigam (UHBVN), Ambala Circle, Mr R.K. Verma, said that
the unannounced cut was on account of a total system
collapse from Ropar. There was some disturbance in
the Northern Grid which is facing the problem of
abnormally low frequency of below 48 cycles per second
against a normal of 50 cycles per second. It is then that
the system becomes crucial and there is a failure of
generation of electricity. Moreover, such failures cannot
be foreseen and we can do little in the matter.
Tripping leads to power failure
CHANDIGARH, Jan 6 As the entire Punjab remained without power for several hours this morning, engineers and other staff members of the PSEB struggled hard for hours to revive the Ropar, Bathinda and Lehra Mohabbat thermal power units that collapsed around 10 a.m. due to tripping of the northern grid.
It was a fourth major power failure in North India in the past one week. Informed sources in the PSEB said except certain parts of eastern Uttar Pradesh and some parts of Rajasthan, the entire North was affected by grid failure which occurred at 10.10 this morning.
The authorities concerned are trying hard to analyse and pinpoint the cause of grid failure. But overdrawal by certain states and all of a sudden increase in the load factor due to chilly weather conditions are said to be responsible for such a collapse of the northern grid.
In each thermal plant two power generating units have been revived in Punjab and the rest will be made operational soon, said a senior functionary of the PSEB. The power situation will be normal in the state by tomorrow morning.
The demand for power in Punjab has gone up by several times in the past days due to foggy weather conditions. Informed sources in the PSEB said the demand for power remained highest in the morning. Though Punjab was a power surplus state but overdrawal by neighbouring states like Jammu and Kashmir and Delhi created problems not only for Punjab but also for the entire northern grid.
The sources the said the Bhakra power generating system was revived within an hour of collapse of the grid. It started supply by 11.10 this morning, and in certain parts of Punjab the power supply was restored by 12.30 p.m. The revival of thermal power units in Punjab was in the process. The supply was delayed till evening to remaining parts.
The entire industry, hospitals and movements of trains were affected by the power failure. Informed sources said that hydroelectric power units under Punjab's control could only provide supply for a few hours as these could not be operated for a longer period due to low level of water in ponds that feed these units.
Sources said that entire
power generating system at the BBMB in J and K, Haryana
and Delhi had come to a halt due to tripping of the grid.
J and K was one of the states that was making overdrawal
of power from the grid.
destroyed in fire
PANCHKULA, Jan 6 In a major fire, a showroom of paints and other construction material was completely gutted and items over Rs 25 lakh were destroyed. Three persons were injured and admitted to hospital. Some 20 fire tenders called from in and around the township were pressed into service to extinguish the fire, which could be brought under control after nearly five hours.
The owner of the showroom and President of the Market Association, Mr Surinder Kumar Bansal, said that one of his employees reported a small fire in the basement around 10:30am, soon after he opened the shop.``I have no idea how it started though the possibility of a short-circuit cannot be ruled out. My employee had been downstairs a couple of times today prior to the fire and had taken an emergency torch since there was no electricity. On his third trip he noticed the fire and we immediately covered the patch with bags of sand, he relates.
However, when they failed to extinguish the fire, an employee called up the fire station and informed them of the incident. The two fire tenders were rushed to the spot. Though they could manage to bring the fire on the groundfloor under control, the blaze in the basement continued to spread owing to the flammable material stocked inside. The lapse of half an hour when the fire tenders returned to the fire station for a refill damaged the good extensively the owner said.
Meanwhile, six tenders were rushed from Chandigarh while five of these came from Chandi Mandir. Help from fire stations at Ambala, Zirakpur, Mohali, Rajpura, Dera Bassi and HMT was also sought. Employees of the shop managed to break the wall on the backside of the showroom to enable firemen to gain entry into the basement since the only entry to the basement was blocked with thick smoke bellowing out.
In the effort to break down the wall, Shamsher Singh was injured and had to be taken to hospital. One of the employees broke his arm in trying to break the glass to make place to push the water hose. A third one was taken unwell after he took in a lot of smoke emanating from the basement while he was trying to pull out whatever could be saved.
The nightmare ended around 3:30pm after which Mr Bansal tried to make an assessment of the loss. However, he said that even a rough estimate would involve going through the records and that nothing could be said. While the stench of burnt paint continued to fill the place much later also, cracks were visible in the walls of the showroom and the floor.
Mr Bansal blamed the
entire loss of good in the fire on the inefficiency of
the fire station, which he said was ill-equipped to
handle such incidents. He said that they had no stock of
foam used in the entire operation and it was tenders from
Chandigarh that actually managed to bring the fire under
control. However, the fire station denied such
allegations and said that they still had stock left over
to substantiate their claim. However, they admitted that
refilling did take time since there was no electricity
and everything had to be done manually. He said that he
was disgusted in the manner the whole fire episode was
handled by the authorities.
CHANDIGARH, Jan 6 (UNI) Dense fog coupled with severe cold disrupted rail, road and air traffic for the sixth day today while a major power breakdown in the Ropar thermal plant added to the problem.
Dense fog shrouded the entire region and delayed incoming and outgoing flights by five hours or more, and trains by four to seven hours. Attendance in educational institutions, government offices and business establishments was thin and markets wore a deserted look.
As dense fog reduced visibility to nil, almost all the trains on Delhi-Ambala-Chandigarh-Kalka, Delhi-Jalandhar-Amritsar-Jammu Tawi sections of the Northern Railway ran well behind schedule. The Delhi-Chandigarh Shatabdi Express and Himalyan Queen took almost seven hours to reach Chandigarh against their normal time of three hours and four hours respectively. The Howrah-Kalka mail ran six hours behind schedule reaching Kalka at about ten this morning.
Chandigarh and its surrounding experienced the coldest day of the season with maximum temperature falling to 10.2 C, 10.3 degrees below normal. The minimum was two degrees below normal at 5.2 celsius.
The entire tribal belt comprising Lahaul-Spiti and Kinnaur districts and Pangi valley of Chamba district in Himachal Pradesh had temperatures ranging from six to 17 degrees below freezing point.
Drass in Ladakh, the second coldest place in the world after Siberia recorded minus 20 while Leh, Kargil and Thoise reported lows of minus 15 C.
Kashmir valley recorded minus six to seven degrees C.
Weathermen for the first time held out a ray of hope of the prolonged dry spell ending over the next three to four days with the appearance of a westerly disturbances.
The westerly disturbances, lying over Afghanistan and Jammu and Kashmir areas bordering Pakistan is likely to cause snow and rains in Jammu and Kashmir and adjoining areas of Himachal Pradesh.
They, however, have warned of continued fog with minimum temperatures falling and ground frost at isolated places in Punjab, Haryana and lower reaches of Himachal Pradesh over the next two nights.
Lakes, including chander Tal in Lahaul valley, the 4,500 metre high Manimahesh in Chamba district, natural water springs and ponds froze at various places in the tribal belt of Himachal Pradesh as mercury plummeted several degrees below freezing point.
However, Shimla with a low of 5.2 C three degrees above normal was warm while Solan shivered at 2 degrees.
affecting supply of edible commodities
CHANDIGARH, Jan 6 After adversely affecting movement of rail, road and air traffic, fog over the entire north-western region has affected the supply of perishable edible items coming from distant parts of the country.
Apart from hitting the movement of trucks the fog has also hit the goods trains, thus affecting movement of material, machines and raw material. Already supply of several daily use items like milk, bread, butter, cheese and eggs is being delayed daily in the prevailing conditions. Even newspapers have been reaching later than the usual time. Suddenly, the rehriwallahs who used to make the rounds of localities selling bread, eggs and butter have stopped coming during the morning hours. Even the door-to-door delivery of milk in the morning has been stopped by the milk agents in some sectors.
Though prices of locally grown vegetables like carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, cauliflower and cabbage will not see a hike, items like ginger, garlic or onions that are transported from distant states may see a hike as foggy conditions are prevailing beyond Delhi on the one side, and up to Lucknow on the eastern side, informed another transporter. This has slowed the movement of vehicles.
Also affected is the industrial sector. Supply of raw material to industrial units in Dera Bassi, Lalru, Baddi, Barotiwala, Parwanoo and S.A.S. Nagar have been hit.
In turn the delivery of finished goods is also being delayed. Several entrepreneurs are facing problems in meeting deadlines of their buyers, who are located all over India and even abroad .
Trucks that transport
vegetables, fruits, pulses, milk, bread and other items
are being delayed, says a transporter. A run up to Delhi
is taking up to 20 hours instead of the routine 7 hours.
This reduces the number of round trips a truck can make
in a month. All perishable items like onions are brought
to Chandigarh from Delhi by road. Same is true for
vegetables. A large number of vegetables are also brought
to Chandigarh from Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.
Day temperature plummets
CHANDIGARH, Jan 6 The record for the second coldest day ever in the history of the city was equalled today as the day time temperature did not rise above 10.2°C This was close to 10°C below the normal average for this time of the year.
Only once has the day time temperature remained below than that recorded today. The record for the coldest day ever is of 9.4°C on December 31, 1990. A temperature of 10.2°C, the same as today, was recorded only once before on December 30, 1989. The recordings are available since 1982 when the met observatory was set up here.
The minimum temperature
was 5.2°C. The cold conditions during the day time were
felt more as a major power break down hampered the use of
blowers , heaters and geysers. The fog that had descended
over the city and its surrounding areas last night hung
over the area throughout the day today, hiding the sun.
Billing problems, high
rentals main complaints
PANCHKULA, Jan 6Complaints of billing problems and high meter rentals dominated the cases which came up for hearing at the `Bijli Sabha organised by the Uttar Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam (UHBVN) at their office in Phase II of the Industrial Area here today.
While billing problems were essentially out of defects in meters which were either slow, dead or even sticky, the charges levied on account of meter rentals were described as high by the consumers who had come inspite of the bad weather.
About 12 complaints were received out of which four cases were disposed off on the spot by the officials in a meeting chaired by the Mr RK Verma, Superintending Engineer of the Ambala circle. He added that the sabha had been organised following directions from the Nigam and that it would be held on a regular basis if it proved to be beneficial in sorting out problems of the public.
Residents of Sector 11, Mr Munish and Mr Amolak Ram Sahni, alleged that the meter was running very fast and that nobody had come to check it despite repeated complaints. This had resulted in excessive billing and they were being forced to pay through their nose.
Another complainant, Subhash Chander from Ambala, complained that he was being sent an average bill for the cane crusher which he was running at his native village. As a result he stated that he was paying Rs 7100 extra to the department even though his crusher becomes operational only in winter.
A complainant from Sector 7, Mrs Suruchi, said that her meter had not been working since quite some time and no action had been taken by the department inspite of repeated complaints. She added that the officials from the department kept harassing them with threats that a fine would be imposed on them if the meter was not set right.
Mr Gopal Bansal, a resident of Phase I, was critical of the revised rentals of the department. He said that the rent had been hiked from Rs 1000 to Rs 2250, which have been implemented from 1995 onwards.
The complaints have been
taken by the officials of the department who said that
they would look into the matter and arrive at a judicious
decision. Mr RK Verma added that other complaints
received dealt with the unscheduled power cuts whereby
people resented the cuts imposed without any prior
information. He informed that the sabhas were being
organised in the various circles of the state from
January 3 to 8.
SAS NAGAR, Jan 6 A camp to give jobs to kin of deceased employees of the Punjab Education Department was held here today.
The camp, organised on the Punjab School Education Board premises in Phase VIII, was attended by nearly 400 persons. There were around 300 pending cases.
The Education Minister, Mr Tota Singh, said such camps were held every three months. The present one, third in a series, was being held after a gap of six months due to the Lok Sabha elections.
The minister said
suitable cases were cleared at the level of the officers
concerned. However, cases with certain shortcomings were
referred to him for decision. A large number of officials
of the department were also present.
GPO employee electrocuted
CHANDIGARH, Jan 6 An employee of the General Post Office was electrocuted in his cabin late this evening.
The 30-year-old Pardeep Kumar, a resident of Sector 29, was working as an electrician and is said to have fallen on a heater which resulted in his death. It is said that he was a heavy drinker and a quarter of whisky was also found lying near his body at the site of the mishap.
Further investigations are on.
Credit-card fraud: The police has registered a case against a Sector 44 resident for duping eight persons of their credit cards.
According to police sources, Mr Akhil Bhanot, a resident of Sector 35-C, reported that the accused, Jaspreet Makkar, a sales executive, had been given the task to source new members for bank credit cards.
He worked for only a month and in this time, collected the credit cards of eight persons, reportedly, on the pretext that they would be issued fresh cards with their photographs at no additional cost. The unsuspecting members gave their cards to Jaspreet who, reportedly, went on a shopping spree.
In that period, he ran up bills for Rs 1.55 lakh and absconded afterwards. Those duped include Col H.K. Dev, Lieut-Col Parminder Singh, Gp Capt D.S. Bains, Lieut-Col D.S. Bajwa, Mr Harish Malhotra and Mr Vishal Malhotra. Mr Harish is said to have given three credit cards to the accused.
A case has been registered at the Sector 36 police station.
Liquor seized: The police has arrested four persons and has seized 180 pouches of whisky and 48 bottles of liquor from them.
Those arrested include Ramesh Kumar, Narender Singh, Niranjan Singh and Bhajjan Singh.
Cases under Sections 61, 1 and 14 of the Excise Act have been registered.
Gamblers held: The police has arrested Gulshan, Surinder and Sunil on the charges of gambling from near the Sector 23 bus shelter. Rs 1,150 have been seized from them.
A case under Sections 13, 3 and 67 of the Gambling Act has been registered.
Car theft: Mr Ravinder Singh, a resident of Sector 20, has reported that someone has stolen his car (DBG-1152) from his residence.
A case under Section 379 of the IPC has been registered.
Ornaments stolen: Mr Harpreet Singh, a resident of Sector 12, Panchkula, has reported that someone has stolen a bag containing some gold ornaments and Rs 7,500 in cash from his car parked outside a restaurant in Sector 17.
DERA BASSI, Jan 6 A gang of burglars allegedly broke into a jewellery shop in Preet Nagar Colony and took away valuables worth thousands of rupees at about 2.30 am on Thursday.
According to Mr Ganesh, the chowkidar, the burglars wrapped in blankets were armed with sticks. They broke the shutter with the help of iron rods and entered the shop. I heard a noise and rushed towards them. They tied me with ropes and then decamped. They left the place after half an hour, said Mr Ganesh.
Mr Anmol Singh, owner of
the shop, who had opened it one month ago, received the
news at his native place at Ballopur, near Lalru, this
morning. Blankets, bedsheets, chappals and some liquor
bottles suspected to be belonging to the burglars were
also recovered form the nearby bushes.
inspection of police stations
CHANDIGARH, Jan 6 The Police Department has taken a serious view of the non-inspection in the police stations of the city for the past two years and has directed that these would be inspected twice a year as per the norms.
The inspections had not been carried out for periods ranging from six months to 2 years in the 11 police stations of the city. The exercise is mandatory as per rules and all records have to be certified as checked by senior officers.
According to sources, the laid-back approach and casual attitude in in the past while carrying out the inspection have had a telling effect on the performance of the force at the subordinate level and the lower rung staff. It was also one of the major reasons that the missing files for the past decade and half went unreported. The officers who carried out the inspections too did not point out the irregularities at various police stations.
It may be recalled that the department had ordered the submission of a report of all cases that have been registered in the city since 1966. This was done to ascertain the number of cases which had either been brushed under the carpet or had not been pursued to their logical end.
Till, date the number of cases where the files are missing or have not been completed and put to court has crossed 50. The reports of certain police stations are still awaited and a final picture would emerge once all the information is submitted.
Stressing on the importance of inspections, Mr S. K. Singh, IGP, said these had to be carried out twice a year by officers of the rank of DSP, SP and SSP. The idea was to have a first-hand account of the performance of not only the SHOs but also to keep track of the progress being made in the investigations.
To rule out foul play, the DSPs other than those posted in the area are deputed. They are asked to go through the records and record their observations, copies of which are also sent to the police headquarters.
Farmers brave chill to
CHANDIGARH, Jan 6 Foggy and chilly weather notwithstanding, the arrival of fruit and vegetables from nearby areas has been continuing unabated.
Wrapped in blankets, farmers have been bringing tractor-trailer loads of cabbage, cauliflower, potatoes and other vegetables to the Sector 26 fruit and vegetable market for all these days of foggy and chilly weather.
The farmers maintain that because of fog, the visibility stands considerably reduced both in the mornings and evenings, the time at which they bring their produce to the market. Harvesting of vegetables, especially of cabbage and cauliflower is mostly done during the day and the vegetable brought to the market either the same evening or early next morning.
The farmers maintain that because of reduced visibility and restricted vehicular movement, some of the smaller and marginal farmers do face problems in transporting their produce to the markets to nearby towns. In routine, they say, they do not face any problem as some empty trucks, Tata Mobiles and other smaller transport vehicles accept roadside lifting of harvested vegetables and carry them to nearby towns and markets.
Except for that, say the farmers, there is no other major problem.
There is no shortage of any vegetable anywhere, they add.
chaos at kerosene depots
CHANDIGARH, Jan 6 With the gap between the demand and the supply of kerosene widening, chaos and queues continued to mount at the kerosene depots in the city today also.
The strike by the Haryana Petrol Tankers Association over the revision of the carriage charges recently, which hit the supplies, ensured that poor sections of society stood in queues for the hours to get their quota of kerosene.
Residents, waiting for their turn at different kerosene depots, alleged that the full quota of 25 litres per family was not being released since last month. Since the demand had increased substantially in the winter, they were forced to buy kerosene on the black market.
Mr Daya Shankar, a resident of Colony No 5, who was waiting for his turn at a Sector 45 kerosene depot along with hundreds of other persons since the wee hours in the morning, alleged that even after over 10 hours' wait in the biting cold he did not know when he would get his quota. Since the distribution of kerosene was suspended after some time due to power failure, chaos prevailed, with residents, including women and children, jostling with each other for remaining in the queue.
Raghpat, a resident of the same colony, complained that last month also he was given only 15 litres as against the normal quota of 25 litres, thus forcing him to buy kerosene on the black market.
Mr Arjun Singh alleged that while they did not get their full quota, kerosene was readily available on the black market at rates varying from Rs 50 to 60 per five litres. A bottle of kerosene could be had for Rs 12 to Rs 15, he added.
A number of housewives alleged that with the full quota eluding them, they found it difficult to manage their homes. Ms Kalati Devi urged the authorities to ensure that they got their full quota for the month.
A number of persons alleged that it was routine for them to stand in the queues for getting kerosene for hours. At times, the colony residents, a majority of them daily wage workers, had to take the day off for getting the supply, added Mr Kapil Dev Sharma.
According to sources, in
the absence of any action by the authorities concerned a
substantial amount of the levy kerosene found its way
into the black market. Since there was no alternative
fuel for the poor, the black market in the sale of
kerosene was booming, the sources added.
CHANDIGARH, Jan 6 Spice Telecom today announced a new incentive for its pre-paid subscribers in Punjab. The programme offers free airtime as an incentive on recharge of the pre-paid card on or before 31st January, 2000. This will help in reducing the number of people who do not recharge their cards and also lessen the number of days people do not recharge the cards.
The incentive programme is to exclusively benefit all pre-paid subscribers of Spice Telecom. The free airtime starts with the first call the subscriber makes or receives on the day following the day of recharge. The scheme is not valid on the first charge. The benefit is available only on first two recharges in a calendar month.
BEL workers stage dharna
PANCHKULA, Jan 6 Employees of the BEL factory staged a dharna at the premises here yesterday. The President of the Bharat Electrical Workers Union, Mr Kuldip Singh, said their the main demand was that one of the family members of the deceased employees should be adjusted in the factory.
train savings agents stressed
CHANDIGARH, Jan 6 Mr Des Raj Tandon, Senior Deputy Mayor, has emphasised the need for training savings agents with a view to accelerating the rate of savings under various small savings schemes in the city.
Inaugurating a series of training programmes for the PPF agents of Chandigarh and Punjab in Sector 22 here today, Mr Tandon appreciated the good work done by the agents in the achievement of last years savings target to the tune of 300 per cent and hoped that it would be improved in the current year.
Mr Mohinder Sharma, Regional Director of the National Savings, Punjab and UT of Chandigarh, informed that Rs 65.67 crore had been collected in Chandigarh and Rs 2049.89 crore in Punjab during the last year and major contribution had come from the small savings agents.
Such training programmes were being organised in Punjab at the divisional level to equip the PPF agents for rendering better services to the PPF depositors. All agents would be issued computerised identity cards soon, he added.
Mr Vivek Singla, a chartered accountant, detailed the benefits allowed on savings, especially on the PPF scheme under the Income Tax Act.
Dr Satbir Singh, Officiating Director of the Family Welfare, Chandigarh, urged the participants to join the polio-eradication campaign on January 23 to eradicate polio from the city.
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