It’s eight on clock and pitch dark in this medieval city. The monument of love on this new moon night looks like a ghost of its 364-year-old heritage: immersed in darkness, it is more like a white sheet spread on a bed of green. An apparition of the emperor, fabled for centuries now to have walked its lawns on countless such nights, must be piqued at this neglect and would be vindictive. He would not know that the apex court of the land had ordered uninterrupted power supply to illuminate his Taj Mahal a few years ago. Had he known that, it would have added to his paroxysm.
But having been an efficient administrator himself though a few centuries earlier, he would understand what it takes to manage a state consumed by outages perpetually, both predictable and otherwise. The state, according to a revelation made by cabinet minister Shivpal Yadav recently, buys additional electricity worth Rs 7 crore every day. But even this much of extra power is not even a drop in the ocean of darkness that the state has plunged itself in.
The other day shutterbugs caught on camera an official removing streetlamps from former chief minister Mayawati’s Ambedkar Park in the state capital. When asked, he said he was asked to do that to cut on power expenditure on the park. Quite understandable. When you have to save power, take all the streetlamps out. Switching them off is so difficult, isn’t it?
Let’s not always suspect political vengeance in such acts. The state government’s earnestness in dealing with power shortage is beyond doubt: take for example the less-than-24-hour-long power curfew it imposed on malls and other shops. And also see the national media’s proclivity to make issue out of this and try to paint the state as the back of the beyond. That’s not fair.
The state has pockets of uninterrupted power supply as well. Etawah, Mainpuri, Kannauj and Auraiyya. Now what if these places are represented in assembly by the CM’s family members. There are others as well. Rampur, the hometown of Mulayam’s second-in-command Azam Khan. Barabanki which has all the six MLAs from the Samajwadi Party, three of them ministers. Hardoi, SP MP Naresh Agarwal’s home, or Amroha, minister Mehboob Ali’s home. The media even painted these ‘uninterrupted supply zones’ in a bad light. That wasn’t fair either.
While the UP Power Corp Ltd head has denied in media special treatment to any district, he admits that Etawah, Mainpuri and Kannauj are getting uninterrupted power. He blames the mess on a shortage of coal, a terrible summer and delay in arrival of monsoon. Now, the emperor must be considerate in his understanding since the two of the causes that the UPPCL has listed are natural and for the third – the shortage of coal – the royal highness would agree that it is a national problem. Somehow, its effect on UP is most prominently visible.
So, in this immense darkness of Agra at this eight-o-clock hour, when gensets have collapsed in their grime after the day’s hard work, shops that run on them have long downed their shutters and streets are deserted; occasional passers-by look like ghosts and ghosts, like the emperor’s, look like passers-by; nobody complains. The black night enwraps them all.