New Delhi, Oct 15 : The 75-year-old mother of Vishwesh Sanghwi started getting restless as her mechanised oxygen support went dead after a power cut. The 16-year-old son of Vikas Singh, who was to appear for board examinations next year, could not attend his online classes. The 8-year-old daughter of Gyanendra Srivastava fainted after being stuck in the lift for over half an hour. 35-year-old Shameem Ahmed could not seal the deal with his client as his laptop went dead in the middle of his presentation.
These are just a few incidents that residents of high-rises in Delhi-NCR had to face on Thursday after the back-up power systems of their condominiums were ordered to stay inoperational starting.
The Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority has ordered a ban on diesel generators, except for emergency purposes, in Delhi and neighbouring cities from Thursday as part of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) to control air pollution. However, the order has come as torture for the residents, especially those living in more than 1,000 residential condominiums situated across Delhi-NCR. These condominiums have installed back-up power systems, and almost all run on diesel generators.
The residents are questioning the applicability of the move when half the economy is running via Work From Home (WFH), and the education has gone entirely digital. Many high-rises have put out a circular this morning informing their residents about EPCA's order and shut down of the back-up power systems enforced by it.
"How is my child going to study in peace knowing that there could be a power cut at any moment? How am I going to work without WiFi internet?" Vikas Singh, a resident of ATS Advantage, a high-rise in Ghaziabad, worriedly asked.
The residents complained that the duration of power cuts in Noida and Ghaziabad could go as long as six hours in a day. IANS tried to contact R.K. Rana, chief engineer of Pashchimanchal Vidyut Vitran Nigam Ltd, a power distribution company (discom) in western Uttar Pradesh, to know about the preparedness in view of EPCA's order. But our calls and messages went unanswered.
However, a senior official from the discom told IANS that 650 Remote Operating Units (ROUs) had been installed in Ghaziabad and Noida to tackle the power cut issue. "If a feeder fails to supply power, the nearest feeder will take the electricity load and the supply would be resumed instantly," the official claimed.
Alok Kumar, founder of the Federation of Association of Apartment Owners, in Ghaziabad called the order by EPCA "unthoughtful." "Uninterrupted power supply is an essential commodity. Maximum workforce is working from home while the children are getting education at home. How are they going to manage if they are subjected to this unjust action?" he asked.
He also said that people who live vertically would face a lot of trouble during power cuts. "Imagine the situation for residents living at a height of 15 or 20 floors. They will feel handicapped if power cuts happen. They won't step out even when necessary," Kumar added.
K.K. Jain, president of Federation of Noida Resident Welfare Associations in Noida, said that the order could prove catastrophic during an emergency. He shared concerns over the rise in incidents of people getting stuck in lifts. "The lifts in high-rises are not generally updated. Their emergency systems or Automatic Rescue Device (ARD) do not work. What would happen in case of an accident?" he asked.
Jain also said the implication of this order could prove fatal during incidents of fire. "The firefighting systems in high-rises runs on electricity and in absence of back-up power during power cut, it will turn out to be disastrous," he noted.
Meanwhile, people also said that the elderly and critical care patients receiving treatment at home would be the major sufferers due to EPCA's order. "There are patients in my society who are on mechanised oxygen support. Can you imagine what they would do when the power is gone? This order can prove as a death sentence for such patients," Sanjay Jain, president of RWA of ATS Advantage society, stated.
Besides, a sense of resentment is brewing among high-rise residents against EPCA's order. A few societies have already decided to defy the order in the interest of the residents. "We will not follow this discriminatory order. One size doesn't fit all. It may be feasible for people living in individual houses where they can avail electric inverters for their power back-up needs, but in high-rises, its application is totally unjust," Jain said.
"Being a representative of my society, I can't let the residents suffer. If need be, we would fight this in court as well," he added.