KARNATAKA

Unscheduled power cut causing hardship

HASSAN JAN. 3. Unscheduled power cut is causing hardship to farmers in Arsikere taluk and according to the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS) leaders, the authorities of the Mangalore Electrical Supply Company (MESCOM) disconnected power supply to three villages, Yerehalli, Vittalapura and Hosur, in the taluk last week. However, the farmers themselves restored the power.

According to the leaders, the MESCOM authorities disconnected power supply as a few farmers had failed to pay electricity bills in time.

However, the authorities after disconnecting power supply clarified that they had acted according to the instruction of their higher authorities. A senior official while defending the action said the power connection was severed following a direction from the head office and the company had taken a decision to impose unscheduled power cuts due to the failure of monsoon this year.

However, the sufferers were those who had promptly paid their bills. They complained that the MESCOM authorities had disconnected power supply to their village though only a few people had failed to pay their bills. They even complained to the Tahsildar about the arbitrary decision to disconnect power supply to three villages.

Villagers faced drinking water problem due to disconnection for nearly two days, till farmers restored it forcibly. According to the KRRS leaders, though this was brought to the notice of the higher authorities, action had not been taken. Enraged by the indifferent attitude, nearly 300 farmers went to Vittalapura and restored power. They met the authorities and warned them against disconnecting power supply.

Senior officials of the district said that disconnection of power supply to three villages for non-payment by a few farmers was "meaningless.'' However, the company could severe power connection, only if the entire village failed to make payment in time.

When contacted, the Executive Engineer of Chennarayapatna Division, N.S.Nagaraj, refuted the charge that the MESCOM had disconnected power supply to the villages and said, "there was trouble in the line supply power to the villages and the company was trying to set it right. Confusing this with disconnection, farmers themselves restored supply." He clarified that the MESCOM had no plans to initiate action against farmers.

The unscheduled power cut also drew criticism in a recent taluk panchayat meeting in Arsikere and members cutting across party lines took MESCOM officials to task whose action reportedly caused hardship to farmers in the area.

Shivalinga Murthy, who initiated the discussion, said that farmers were suffering as MESCOM authorities failed to provide assured power supply of six hours in rural area. He said that a water crisis had begun even before the onset of summer and feared that the situation would deteriorate during summer.

The Assistant Executive Engineer of MESCOM, Udaya Kumar, replying to queries from the members, said that the quantum of power sanctioned to the taluk was not sufficient to meet the needs. The taluk, including Gandsi hobli, was getting 4.75 lakh units of power and the Arsikere unit was distributing it "judiciously," he added.

He said MESCOM was incurring a loss of Rs.20 lakhs a month whereas it earned Rs.10 lakhs as revenue against Rs.30 lakhs earlier. There were 13,500 pumpsets in the taluk and according to reports there were at least 1,800 illegal pumpset connections. MESCOM was to get nearly Rs.10 crores from irrigation pumpsets alone, he added.

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