Continuing power fluctuations in parts of the city is taking a toll on field staff of the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (Tangedco) as there have been increasing instances of officials being attacked by irate consumers, especially in the northern neighbourhood.

Condemning such attacks, nearly 100 field staff and area engineers of the Tondiarpet substation boycotted work for a few hours on Monday morning after a telephone operator, Rajan, was beaten up by a group of consumers on Saturday evening

“In most cases, minor issues turn into major arguments. Our men have nothing to do with the power crisis in the state, but people don’t understand this and vent their anger on us,” said a Tangedco official.

In the past week, a number of staff members who had gone to attend to problems reported at various places in Tondiarpet were beaten up by irate consumers.

On Saturday, Rajan, a temporary staff member, was abused by consumers who claimed he had failed to inform field staff about the complaints reported over phone.

A day earlier, on August 23, a group of consumers barged into the substation office and ransacked the premises, damaging computers, power transformers and other electrical equipment. Similarly, on August 19 and 20, a group of field staff was beaten up at Netaji Nagar and Patel Nagar in Tondiarpet, respectively, by consumers facing power cuts and voltage fluctuations.

Currently, the substation at Tondiarpet has more than 40,000 connections. “Unlike earlier when the officer was manned by at least four staff members during the night shifts, now, only two persons are allowed to attend to complaints. It has been increasingly difficult to monitor a vast area like Tondiarpet,” said a Tangedco official.

No complaints have been filed with the police by the staff as senior officials had advised the field staff to not make an issue over the treatment meted out by consumers. But the latest attack on the staff had provoked the field staff to protest the behaviour of consumers, an official said. On Monday, senior officials of Tangedco and the police reached the spot and tried to pacify the agitated field staff. After more than five hours of intense negotiation, the police assured the staff that two constables would be posted at the substation during the nights for their protection. Senior Tangedco officials said the organisation would allow their field staff to file complaints against any future attacks.

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