Back then, the Maharashtra State Electricity Board (MSEB) was a plain ‘board’, not yet turned into a ‘distribution company’ as it is now (MahaDiscom) and would most appropriately expand to ‘Monday to Sunday Electricity Bandh.’ It was a replay of this old understanding on 17th May, coincidentally a Monday, when consumers were kept in the dark, literally, and figuratively, about no power supply between 8am and past midnight in areas stretching from Kalyan to Ambarnath.
Strangely, power was restored in Lok Dhara around 3pm, but not in the immediately adjacent Lok Gram. Again, at night while the cooperative housing societies (CHSs) remained in darkness, the street lights were glowing. In some areas on the old Mumbai Pune link road, there was reportedly no power supply for over 48 hours.
Citizens kept patience in view of the raging Cyclone Tauktae, as strong winds were blowing accompanied by frequent drizzles. But by 3pm many CHSs had not a single drop of water left in the overhead storage tanks.
There was no communication from MahaDiscom, and all helplines had been disconnected.
Citizens, mostly members of managing committees of housing societies, had no choice but to pour into the nearest office located within the premises, even though this was against the lockdown directives. They were told to go to Tata Power (name of the Kalyan Receiving Station) office, about 2kms away.
There was not a single officer on duty at this office located at Tata Power on Shil Phata road. The ground level workers promised supply within an hour, but when it failed to materialise, around 8pm people again made the trip to the same office, to find that in total defiance of the lockdown protocol, there were crowds of people from all over Kalyan demanding restoration of power supply.
Again, not a single officer was accessible, physically or on phone.
The ground level workers offered some explanation, saying they were about to leave for Khambalpada, on the outskirts of Dombivali, for an investigation. This, 12 hours after the shut down!
Meanwhile, people working from home had lost an entire work day. Apparently, the trouble extended to Ambarnath, and possibly beyond, there is no way of knowing.
Households were plunged into darkness as even the inverters had got discharged and so did the power banks, used for recharging phones in the absence of electric supply.
The next day many areas to not have a drop of water supply. At the time of writing this, power again played truant from about 10am to 1pm.
Finally, the power was restored at 2pm on Tuesday.
MahaDiscom must take responsibility for the outcomes of such sloppy services and make amends.
The least MahaDiscom can do in such crises is:
1. Activate emergency services immediately when such incidents occur.
2. Keep all communication lines open so that consumers do not have to defy the lockdown protocol and rush physically from one MSEDCO office to another in SOS mode.
3. Find out the names of the persons responsible for this goof up and take disciplinary action against them.
We sent emails to several senior officials of MahaDiscom, including energy minister Dr Nitin Raut. Till writing the story, there was no response. We will include their response as and when we receive it.