Festive season is on. Diwali is round the corner. But thousands of people in various parts of Rajasthan are staring at the possibility of a black Diwali.
Large parts of the desert state have been reeling under an ongoing power crisis for the past several days.
At least five districts of Rajasthan are badly affected with power cuts ranging from five to 14 hours per day. The affected districts of Rajasthan include parts of Bikaner, Bharatpur and Dholpur.
"Power is not there and we are in deep trouble. We are getting power for three - four hours," Jagdish, a Dholpur farmer, said.
"We all are facing lot of trouble due to power cuts. Farming is being affected due to power cuts, fans are not working causing trouble for sick people. Government should pay heed to this," Ramdayal Sharma, a villager, said.
In rural hinterlands, the situation has been particularly bad with large power cuts. The daily power cuts have been ranging from five hours to even fourteen hours.
"The power arrangement has been obstructed in Saipau for the last one week. The problem of coal and some technical problem has come to the fore which will be rectified," Vinod Kumar Meena, SDM, Dholpur, said.
Large scale load shedding and power cuts has affected the farmers and students in particular. The farmers have been complaining about not being able to carry on with the farming activities due to large scale power cuts.
The districts that get the power from Jaipur discom have been badly affected.
"Problems have piled up for farmers. During monsoon season, it rained less than expected. Now, the season of sowing for sarson, wheat, peas, and potato is near. But, farmers are getting power of only 3 to 4 hours for watering which is inadequate for the farmers. No one is there to listen to the farmers," Vineet Sharma, a villager, said.
One of the major reasons cited for the severe power crisis is shortage of coal which has severely affected the operations at thermal power plants in the state.
"Due to shortage of coal in the thermal power station, there is power crisis in the state due to which farmers in the rural areas are not getting sufficient electricity," OP Jain, Additional District Magistrate, Bharatpur, said. The Opposition has, however, lambasted the Vasundhara Raje-led BJP government for the ongoing power crisis.
"There has been a state of anarchy in Rajasthan in the last four years. There is a huge power crisis in the entire state. Two plants had to be installed near Bikaner, but the government did not work on it. This has been a very big web. I am leveling accusation against the government and will raise the question in the state assembly," Rameshwar Dudi, Leader of Opposition, said.
Several of the state's thermal power plants are working at almost half the capacity. Suratgarh Thermal power station with a total capacity of 1500 MW has been producing around 700 MW only. Chabbra thermal power plant has been producing around 630 MW against a capacity of 1000 MW. Kota thermal power station, which a has a capacity of more than 1200 MW, has been producing only 600 MW.
"In Bikaner and Barmer, where coal is present in large quantities in huge storages. In 2010-11, Rajasthan had given approval for two plants of 250 MWs each whose work had started and payment of Rs 1000 crore was also made. But later on, work was shut down," said Rakhram Siyag, an RTI activist.