With different parts of West Bengal plunging into darkness following the collapse of the Eastern Grid; people had a harrowing time commuting and even returning home on Tuesday.

Many people were stranded in the city as sub-urban train services were suspended and buses became too crowded to travel. Several people who had come into the city for medical treatment as well as school students and college goers were left stranded.

“I had come to get some medicines for my father but now I have been stuck at the Howrah station for over three hours,” Mr Gour Krishna, a resident of Burdwan, said.

Swift Action

The state government, however, moved in swiftly to tackle the crisis. It brought in 300 buses to ply along different local train routes from both Sealdah and Howrah stations.

According to transport department officials at Writers’ Buildings, employees who were on morning shift were asked to report back to work in the afternoon.

“It’s an emergency situation and all bus drivers were asked to report back. It might be possible that they have to work late into the night,” a transport department official said.

Drivers will be given overtime and incentives, state government officials said.

The state government, however, declared a holiday in its offices after 3pm.

Kolkata off gear

The power cut, however, threw city life out of gear. While automated traffic signals were amongst one of the casualties, large parts of Kolkata – especially the fringe areas – remained without power for long hours ranging between one hour and three hours.

City hospitals were amongst the other casualty. With alternate power supply lines being active through, most hospitals remained unaffected.

“Health services have remained unaffected. Do not ask silly questions. Most hospitals have their own gen-sets,” Ms Mamata Banerjee, West Bengal chief minister, told reporters.

IT Hub

IT services remained one of the worst hit sectors following the power outage. Dependent primarily on the state power utilities for supply of power, the sector was plunged into darkness for around this afternoon. Smaller IT companies were amongst the worst hit because of the power failure. Larger company’s or those with sufficient power back-up did not bear the brunt.

“Initially most of the employees stayed back, but following the absence of power back up the smaller companies closed their offices early,” an IT employee said.

By 6 pm most of medium and small IT companies had closed their offices for the day.

abhishek.l@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on July 31, 2012)
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