Torrent's woes in Agra, home to the country's most famous monument, the Taj Mahal, illustrate how India's efforts to modernise its economy are often thwarted by local politics that feed on fear of change.
It is also a cautionary tale for the government, which has unveiled a bailout plan for debt-ridden electricity distribution companies - most of which are owned by states - and made it a condition for them to look at adopting the distribution franchise model to help slash massive losses.
Torrent's experience highlights the perils for companies hoping to benefit from the privatisation drive, as well as the challenges facing India as it grapples with chronic energy shortages that stand in the way of its ambitions to become a global economic power.
The electricity distribution companies are at the heart of the power crisis and were blamed for one of the world's worst blackouts in late July, when three of India's five transmission grids collapsed, cutting electricity to states where 670 million people live - more than half the country's population.
The companies have racked up losses of more than $46 billion because of unrestrained power theft, leakage from a poorly maintained network and state governments' reluctance to raise tariffs to meet higher generation costs.
Politicians fear a revolt by voters, many of whom view free electricity as a right.
If tariffs had risen in line with other household expenses over the five years to March 2010, the distributors would have turned a profit of 100 billion rupees instead of an aggregate loss of 873 billion rupees over the same period, according to CRISIL, the India unit of rating agency Standard & Poor's.
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