Powerless for 24 hours, offended protesters go on rampage at Quepem

QUEPEM: Angry over a total blackout in the town and surrounding areas for 24 hours, a 200-strong mob went on a rampage, breaking tables and setting ablaze three scrap transformers of the electricity department around Saturday midnight.
The entire municipality area as well as Xeldem, Avedem, Ambaulim and panchayat areas were plunged into darkness on Friday night due to a breakdown in the main 6.3MVA power transformer at power sub-station. Power supply was restored at 7am on Sunday after about 36 hours.

Locals, who were angry about the department’s silence over the status of restoration of power, gathered outside the department’s office in the town on Saturday night, shouting slogans and went on a rampage.

Deputy collector and subdivisional magistrate reached the spot at around 12.30am along with Quepem DySP Uttam Raut Dessai, all PIs from Quepem, Curchorem and Sanguem and a large police force.

The mob set three scrap transformers on fire on Saturday

Work to install new transformer under way

The Curchorem fire brigade was called to douse the fire, but the residents objected to it, stating that the fire was needed to light up the town.

The locals also threatened to hold a bandh in Quepem town on Sunday.

Kadam then rushed to near power sub-station with a team of engineers and a large contingent of police personnel. An alternate arrangement was made and power was restored on Sunday morning. All police officers and the sub-divisional magistrate were stationed at Quepem till power was restored.

Prasad Faldessai, a local, who led the protesters, said, “The electricity department takes the people for granted. We had to spend sleepless nights for two days.”

Councillor Manuel Colaco told TOIthat earlier there used to be an alternate power supply arrangement to Quepem from Cuncolim sub-station in case of a breakdown at the Xeldem sub-station. But, some influential people got it disconnected few years ago so that the Cuncolim industrial estate can benefit, he alleged.

Some residents reportedly had to seek medical attention as the outage rendered fans and ACs non-operational. Even the 24-bed primary health centre remained without power for more than 36 hours.

PI , in charge of Quepem police station, said the situation was under control and no complaint has been registered against anyone. As a precautionary measure, large number of men in uniform are still stationed at the police station. Meanwhile, work on installing a new transformer is in progress at Xeldem.

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