If sweltering heat was not enough, adding to the woes of people are power cuts-- a combination that is making life miserable for people not just in Delhi but even in the National Capital Region (NCR) comprising four major suburban cities - Noida, Gurgaon, Faridabad and Ghaziabad.
'I have spent many sleepless nights in the past one week due to erratic power outages,' Padmawati, a resident of West Delhi's Dwarka- one of the worst hit areas in the capital- told me. Other affected localities include Uttam Nagar, Rajouri Garden, Janakpuri, Hari Nagar, Tilak Nagar, Vikaspuri, Mayapuri, Punjabi Bagh in West Delhi and Dilshad Garden, Karkardooma, Krishna Nagar, Mayur Vihar and Nand Nagari in East Delhi.
In the last couple of days, I have been to many localities of Delhi, Ghaziabad and Noida. Everywhere I found a similar tale of despair and helplessness. 'Nobody attends our phone calls when we call up authorities. When we visit power supplier's office, we find people sleeping on duty,' said Nivedita- a resident of Vaishali in Ghaziabad.
For 70-year-old Veerpal Singh- an asthma patient in West Delhi- outages become even more difficult to bear. 'I feel suffocated and breathless. I can't even use the inhaler when there is a power cut,' says Veerpal.
It's not just power cuts but the problem gets deeper as it impacts other day-to-day work. 'In the evening when it's time to switch on the water pumps there's no electricity. We are forced to purchase water from the market,' said Kamala- a resident of Noida, Uttar Pradesh- while showing her empty buckets to me.
As tempers boiled over, the Central government stepped in on Tuesday calling a high level emergency meeting. Power Minister Piyush Goyal promised quicker action setting an internal deadline of 10 days for the restoration.
To solve the crisis in the capital, the National Thermal Power Corporation will provide gas to urgently generate additional power from the plant in Bawana. Key electricity lines will be restored within 10 days. Power distribution companies have been asked to remain available 24 hours to solve grievances. A daily bulletin on planned outages will be issued by the discoms at 8 am everyday. Delhi Government will daily issue a bulletin on the progress of restoration work too
But even though complete restoration is likely to take some time, Congress-BJP-AAP are busy trading charges. While the BJP has blamed the erstwhile Sheila Dikshit government for the current situation, saying the problem isn't supply but lack of investment, infrastructure and decision making during her tenure as Delhi's Chief Minister. The Congress has hit back with former Delhi Power Minister Haroon Yusuf advising Goyal to focus on the problem in-hand 'instead of bickering and playing the blame game.'
The Aam Admi Party has found in this a chance to bounce back in Delhi. The party has taken it to the streets-its signature move. Former Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has even written to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi (can hyperlink this to the letter) on the issue. Infact, AAP has also launched radio advertisements drawing comparisons between its tenure and the current situation. Party claims during its 49-day stint, 'power supply was double & the tariff was halved'
Politics apart, power cuts continue across the capital despite the promise of immediate relief. With temperatures & tempers rising, unbearable combination of power outages over and above an intense heat wave has left the denizens of Delhi angry and disappointed. Dearest Prime Minister, AAP national convener & whosoever represents the Congress now-- power is what you aspire for, just a gentle reminder, so do the citizens.