Friday, June 06, 2008

Red army’s dark blast

Raipur, June 5: A day after the trial, Naxalites today hit in a bigger way and plunged 1,500 villages and four district headquarters in Bastar into complete darkness by bombing a high-tension power transmission tower in Dantewada.

The rebels on late Tuesday night had damaged 14 power poles and had cut-off power supply in 50 villages of Narayanpur as a part of their attempt to blackout the region during “black June”.

Last year, too, rebels damaged towers in the same area and kept Bastar without power for 11 days.

According to police sources, armed rebels reached an interior area of Barsoor in Dantewada district, some 500km south of the capital, around 10am and blew up 220KV supply towers. The tower collapsed completely in the impact of the blast.

Besides the 1,500 villages in Dantewada, Bijapur, Narayanpur and Bastar, four district headquarters plunged into darkness.

The power and water supply was affected in urban areas as well, as senior officials grappled with the situation.

Chief minister Raman Singh, who termed the blackout, an “in-human” act, held an emergency meeting with senior officials and asked the Chhattisgarh State Electricity Board to restore power supply at the earliest.

Technical staff rushed to Bastar district headquarters, but refused to travel to the blast site without adequate security. Two senior board officials took off in a chopper this afternoon and conducted an aerial survey.

The work of re-erecting the tower and connecting the supply lines would start from Friday. As a part of the contingency plan, the government is supplying power in Bastar and other district headquarters from neighbouring districts.

Senior officials are also in touch with the Orissa government to borrow power from the neighbouring state till the supply was restored.

Board officials said the tower had been “badly damaged” and would take 12 days to be repaired.

The government is arranging for large generators to work in the affected areas so that minimum infrastructure may be provided.

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