Bihar cricket fans tune in to rusty radios

Mukesh Kumar Singh and Shahzad Anwar, both diehard cricket fans, have decided to stay tuned to the match with their old transistor radios.

Singh, a businessman in his early 30s in Gaya district, about 100 km from here, said a power failure could rob him of a chance to watch the matches live, so he has settled for the radio.

"I am not alone. Power shortage has disappointed thousands in Gaya during the World Cup. Youths are angry at the prospect of missing watching the India-Pakistan clash live on television," said Singh, stressing the power situation in Gaya has worsened over the past decade.

"We expected an improvement from Nitish Kumar's government but nothing has happened. We watched 60 percent of the World Cup matches in 2003 and 2007 but this time it's hardly 25 percent," Singh told IANS.

Anwar, a student in his early 20s from Aurangabad district, said it was unfortunate that thousands would miss a chance to watch the India-Pakistan match live on television due to the power crisis.

The power crisis in Bihar is nothing new. It has prompted thousands of cricket fans to wipe the dust off their old and virtually forgotten portable radio sets or to buy new transistors so as not to miss the most important World Cup clash - the India-Pakistan match in Mohali.

Cricket fanatics like Anwar said they and others in most parts of Bihar could not watch the quarter-finals between India and Australia and between Pakistan and the West Indies because of power failures.

Bihar's legislators, in view of the soaring cricket fever, have urged the government to provide uninterrupted power supply in the state Wednesday to ensure that people watch the India-Pakistan match live on television.

Ruling Janata Dal-United legislator Ajit Kumar said the government should do something to supply uninterrupted power for the sake of millions of cricket fans.

However, power officials rue that things are not going to improve Wednesday, blaming a drastic cut in supply from the central grid to Bihar.

Bihar requires 1,800-2,000 MW of power a day but gets only 700-750 MW from the central pool, despite a daily allocation of 1,646 MW, say officials.

Most parts of the state, including capital Patna, have been witnessing long power cuts.
Protests against acute power shortages continued for the fourth consecutive day Tuesday with people blocking roads, ransacking electricity offices and burning rubber tyres, police said.

Leader of opposition Abdul Bari Siddiqui, a cricket fan himself, said lack of power has dampened the hopes of cricket lovers.

"When everyone across India enjoy the India-Pakistan match, millions in Bihar will miss it," he said.

On the flip side, portable radios and batteries are selling like hot cakes.
"People are buying radios and batteries and some people are getting their old radios repaired," said Santosh Mahto, who owns a small electronic shop in Vaishali district.
Mazhar Khan of Raghunathpur village in Aurangabad is very happy. He and his friends plan to watch the Mohali match on television by using batteries charged by solar power. "There are few lucky fans like me!" he said.

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