Kalimpong, Dec. 23: The hills have been reeling from daily power cuts for over a month, forcing the Christian community to seek the intervention of the chief minister to bring an immediate stop to the outage during Christmas festivities.
Homes go dark for about two hours in the evening between 5pm and 8pm and for almost the equal length of time during the day.
“Why is there load-shedding only in the hills? I have made enquiries with my friends in Siliguri, and they say things are fine there,” said Praful Rao, the secretary of the Kalimpong Consumers’ Association and the president of Save The Hills.
Members of the Christian community here today faxed a petition to Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, saying they should not be denied their “right to worship” during Christmas.
“Kalimpong has a significant Christian population. For them this week is holy and an important part of the Christmas celebrations. Carol singing during late evening and night commenced on December 20 and will continue until Christmas day. In this regard, the power cuts by the WBSEB between approximately 5.30pm and 8pm has totally ruined the carol singing, resulting in the carol parties wandering around in pitch darkness,” said the letter signed by members of the Christian community.
Darjeeling bishop Stephen Lepcha said it was sad that the power cut was going on even during the Christmas festivities.
“Either deliberately or unknowingly, this (power cut) has been happening. There appears to be none to talk on our behalf. I have also taken up the matter with state minority commission,” he said over the phone from Darjeeling.
The Christians, though, are not the only ones complaining. The people in general are frustrated with the daily power cuts.
“My daughter was forced to study in candle light during her annual exams last month. Since things do not seem like improving. I am thinking of buying an inverter,” said Gita Lama, a resident of East Main Road.
The power cuts have also resulted in the loss of business for many people. “The outage coupled with poor Internet connectivity have hit my business hard,” said James Tamang, the owner of Cyberden on Main Road.
Efforts to contact West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd officials in Siliguri proved futile.