Thursday, June 05, 2008

Maoists Cut Off Chhattisgarh Power Supply, Police On Alert

Thursday 05th of June 2008
Nearly 1,500 villages in Chhattisgarh's restive Bastar region were plunged into darkness Thursday after Maoists blasted power supply towers, officials said.

Security has been stepped up in the entire mineral-rich region.

Power was cut off Thursday morning in the Dantewada, Bijapur, Bastar and Narayanpur districts after leftist insurgents brought down 220 KV electricity supply towers at Barsoor in Dantewada district.

Officials said it may take a week or more to resume normal supplies.

'Security has been put on high alert in the region with more police forces and paramilitary troopers of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) deployed at government installations,'' Inspector General of Police Girdhari Nayak, who is overseeing the operations against the Maoists, told IANS.

Security has also been heightened at 23 government-run relief camps housing about 50,000 tribals in Bijapur and Dantewada districts that have been prime targets of insurgents in recent years.

Chief Minister Raman Singh described the blackout in Bastar as 'extremely grim'. He called an emergency meeting with Chief Secretary Shivraj Singh and state-run Chhattisgarh State Electricity Board (CSEB) officials and engineers to take stock of the situation.

Terming the Maoists' act as 'inhuman and anti-people', Singh asked the CSEB officials to immediately rush a team, under police security, to begin work for resuming the power supply.

Singh also appealed to the people to maintain calm amid 'unprecedented blackout and help the authorities to resume supply as early as possible'.

Chhattisgarh's Bastar region is spread over 40,000 sq. km. and the Maoists have been running a de-facto administration for almost two decades in its forested interiors.

Last May, the rebels had repeatedly attacked power infrastructure in Bastar that kept the entire region in darkness for over a week. They even attacked a CSEB team that was working to restore supplies

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