Saturday, June 7, 2008

Maoists blast vital power line in Bastar

Jagdalpur, Bijapur, Dantewada and Narayanpur districts in Chhattisgarh plunged into darkness
HYDERABAD: Security forces who scanned the Bastar forests from helicopters on Friday located the high tension power supply tower blasted by Maoists, plunging hundreds of villages into darkness in Jagdalpur, Bijapur, Dantewada and Narayanpur districts.
Heavy contingents of security forces are being mobilised in Bastar to help Chhattisgarh State Electricity Board (CSEB) authorities re-erect the 220-kV line and restore normality in the southern districts of the State. “It would take at least one week to restore power supply,” a senior police officer monitoring the naxal activity told The Hindu from Raipur.
The power disruption brought to a halt mining in Bailadilla, which has India’s largest iron ore deposits, thereby affecting the operations of the National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) and Essar. While NMDC moves the mined ore on the KK-railway line to Visakhapatnam, Essar pumps the ore through a 267-km slurry pipeline from Bailadilla to Visakhapatnam. Both rail movement and ore pumping through the pipeline have been affected.
The NMDC rushed its senior officials, including Director (production) V.K. Jain, to Bastar.Rs. 11 crore loss a day
“The total loss to NMDC could be Rs. 10-11 crore a day,” a senior official of the corporation said in Hyderabad. “The pumping operations have come to a standstill,” an Essar spokesman from Mumbai confirmed.
Despite the presence of 13 batallions of Central security forces in Chhattisgarh, a majority of them in Bastar, considered as a Maoist base, authorities are unable to move into the area to take up restoration work as many roads are mined. “The Maoists are sure to target the security forces,” a security official confided.
A year ago, the Maoists blew up three high tension towers in Bastar. It was a Herculean task for the police to mobilise heavy duty equipment to lay the roads and protect the work-force. There were ambushes and pitched battles. In a landmine blast, two CSEB employees died.Peculiar problem
Now the daunting task for the security forces is to get the heavy duty cranes, bulldozers, poclains, tractors, generator sets, water tankers, tents and rations. Though the police succeeded in bringing heavy duty cranes and bulldozers last year, they faced a peculiar problem. The operators fled forcing the police to use their drivers to operate the equipment. The total loss suffered in last year’s blackout was estimated at over Rs. 2000 crore.

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