Muzaffarpur/Gaya (Bihar), May 11 (IANS) Meena Srivastav of Muzaffarpur and Shoib Akhtar of Gaya have a common woe: frequent power outages that have left them sleepless.
'I have to spend sleepless nights due to acute power shortage,' said Srivastav, a housewife in Balughat, Muzaffarpur.
'After a day's hard work, I am unable to sleep for more three hours due to unexpected power cuts,' said Akhtar, a government official from Gewal Bigha in Gaya.
Like them, millions of people in Bihar's towns and districts are facing 'powerless' summer days and nights.
The outages have left people outraged with hundreds taking to the streets in the last two weeks and even blocking roads in Gaya, Bhagalpur, Muzaffarpur and Patna - though the state capital has seen relatively less power cuts.
'With the mercury soaring above 40 degrees Celsius in Gaya and other districts, people are trying to beat the heat with hand fans and wet napkins,' Akhtar said. There is even a shortage of drinking water, he said.
Gaya, a Buddhist pilgrim town, gets power for only five hours a day, he said. 'People are protesting, but no relief has come our way,' Akhtar said.
The Bihar State Electricity Board (BSEB) blames the summer for it. It says power cuts are being imposed across the state since the demand for electricity is more than its supply.
While Bihar's daily power requirement is between 2,500 and 3,000 MW, the state produces merely 100 MW, said a BSEB official, who did not want to be named. The central government supplies 1,100-1,200 MW power to the state.
'But there is still a deficit of over 1,200 MW,' the official said.
However, BSEB spokesperson H.R. Pandey told IANS that the state government was purchasing 500 MW of additional power to meet the shortfall during summer.
'We buy 300 MW from NTPC and 200 MW from Adani Power,' he said. NTPC is the state-owned National Thermal Power Corporation while Adani Power is a private entity.
Bihar's Energy Minister Bijendra Prasad Yadav has been saying that the state's power crisis would not end until it generated more electricity and the centre increased its allocation.
(Imran Khan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)