Seemandhra now stares at fuel crisis; South fears grid collapse
With no end in sight to the four-day strike of power employees in the strife-torn Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra (or Seemandhra) region of Andhra Pradesh, fuel pumps are also going dry, creating a serious logjam of transport vehicles particularly in the Anantapur-Bangalore and Tirupati-Chennai sectors.
Bunks in the holy town of Tirupati have put up “No stock” boards ,and panic buying has caused hoarding in the Kadapa district, where oil tanker operators have announced a strike from Wednesday.
“The railways is taking a major share from our Ibrahimpatnam IOL store. Every day we are sending 20 to 25 containers of diesel to Vijayawada station alone,” an officer at the central filling station that covers Krishna, Guntur in Seemandhra and Khammam and Nalgonda in the Telangana region said. The officer pointed out that even though there will be no dearth of fuel to run a central filling station, individual petrol bunks will shut down till power returns as operating costs will go up. Similarly, theatres in Seemandhra have either cut down number of shows or hiked ticket prices to cover the diesel cost from using generators.
There was no respite from blackouts and shutdowns for the people as the daily power production loss stood at 4,000 MW due to the strike by over 40,000 employees of the power utilities, while the spectre of a southern grid collapse loomed large.
As the crisis deepened, triggering fears of a possible collapse of the southern power grid, Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy had two rounds of talks with the leaders of the striking power sector employees at the State Secretariat here. “The government is hopeful of breaking the impasse and persuading the power sector employees to return to work on humanitarian grounds,” a source in the Chief Minister’s Office said. However the talks with the employees on Tuesday night failed to yield any solution and the employees made it clear that would continue with the strike.
“Essential services like water supply and healthcare have been badly affected. You should take into consideration the problems faced by the people and call off the strike,” the chief minister told them. He will hold talks on Wednesday with the striking AP Non-Gazetted Officers, which is for a united Andhra Pradesh and against the formation of Telangana state.
Fearing grid collapse, the chief ministers of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala have written to the Central Electricity Authority, warning it of possible tripping in their states. The grid operates 36,000 MW of power and generation of one-third of this, 8.000 MW, is essential to prevent tripping. Tripping of the grid would throw the entire southern region into darkness.
The South Central Railway has cancelled 50 trains due to the power blackout, while production in industrial units in Visakhapatnam and the surrounding areas was also hit.
Cellular phone service was down across the state. In Tirumala, power supply to Srinivasam, Vishnunivasam, Kodandarama Swamy, Govindaraja swamy choultries has been stopped, resulting in shortage of water. In Vizianagaram, where curfew was relaxed for an hour, the situation returned to near normal. Collector Kantilal Dande said medicines, fuel, vegetables and 25,000 litres of milk from Visakha dairy has been made available to people. District Superintendent of Police Kartikeya said 110 people have been arrested in connection with arson. Meanwhile, a petition against the state’s bifurcation was dismissed by the AP high court on Tuesday.
The bench said an amendment or a dismissal of Article 3 of the Constitution on the formation of new states and alteration of areas and names of existing states do not come under the purview of the court and will be looked into by Parliament. The petition was filed by lawyer P V Krishnaiah.