Power disruptions, which have become an integral part of our everyday life , have traumatised households in more ways than one.
While homemakers have to strategise their domestic chores in accordance with the load shedding schedule (euphemism for power cut – if announced), office-goers and school-going children also have to tailor their work schedule to the power cut timetable .
But the most poignant is the case of those who go to fair price shops for buying basic commodities such as rice and sugar. And this predicament affects one and all.
The State government has been scrupulous enough to provide all these outlets, running to several thousands in the State, electronic weighing machines, so that there should not be any complaints of wrong measurement. But, these machines run on electricity and without power they are good as dead. Fair price shop assistants say that they cannot supply even one kilogram of rice or sugar without using these machines.
Hence, they are not prepared to supply anything whenever there is power cut.
Official sources pointed out that these machines have UPS-back up which could help them function for three hours. But the assistants lament that there is no power even to charge the UPS at least for a few hours. “We cannot charge the UPS at night for fear of short-circuit. Besides, all of us will be away from the shop for almost 14 hours and hence if something were to happen at night, it would be impossible for us to handle,” they observe.
As farmer leader C.Masilamani contended in the presence of the Collector Jayashree Muralidharan, electricity officials are furnishing false information regarding 12-hour supply to agriculturists, including supply at night. Supply of electricity at nights all over the district leaves much to be desired and hence charging the UPS at nights is a dicey affair.
Worse is yet to come
When the customers go to these shops, they are asked to come when there is power.
But, as these shops have fixed timings, 8.30 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., the buyers should bet on their luck to get their ration because of the frequency of unannounced power disruptions.
For example, in KK Nagar area, normal load shedding is between 9 a.m. and 12 noon and 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. Thus the customers in the region have got to rush to the fair price shops either early in the morning or at 12 noon or between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.
They are left with hardly a couple of hours to get their ration and that too if there is no power disruption. If the shop assistant is in no mood to oblige the unfortunate consumer, he or she must make the weary trip once again.
Most of the assistants leave the shop by about 6.30 p.m. as they have to remit the daily collection at the head office before 7 p.m. This cuts short the duration of supply further.
Apart from such a torture, most of the assistants attend to what they call “tahsildhar office work” on Saturday afternoon. Besides, the last week of the month invariably sees these assistants becoming hyperactive devoting their entire time to accounts and rarely to customers.
A top official , who said it would definitely be possible to consider installing “gensets” for supplying kerosene through the bunks, admitted that the condition of the ration shops would continue to remain pathetic till the power scenario gets corrected all over the State.
Thus, the moral of the story is that it is not enough that all these shops have adequate stocks of various items and good weighing machines but also they should have electricity to ensure your ration.