More than 800 industrial units and half a dozen hospitals in the coal belt region bore the brunt of the statewide JSEB employees' strike since Wednesday.
While losses ran up to crores at 200-odd hard coke factories and 300 units in Dhanbad, Bokaro Industrial Area Development Authority (Biada) had to force shut all the 350 units in Balidih.
While Kandra, Mahuda, Baghmara, Govindpur, Nirsa, Sindri, Jharia, Dugda, Petarwar, Kasmar, Bermo and Gomia battled power pangs, there were a few islands of reprieve like Chandrapura and Bokaro Thermal, which are serviced by Damodar Valley Corporation.
According to Federation of Dhanbad Chamber of Commerce president Rajiv Sharma, all units were shut for over 36 hours, making this one of the biggest crisis for manufacturers and industrialists in recent times. "There is no option. Generators cannot support production for such long hours. Everyone is suffering losses. The government should hold talks to end this strike," Sharma said.
The situation was worse at heal hubs, including Patliputra Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) in Dhanbad and government hospitals in Govindpur, Baghmara, Nirsa and Jharia among other places. While emergency procedures were stalled at hospitals unprepared for the crisis, many patients headed for Asansol and other place in Bengal and Bihar for treatment.
Dhanbad civil surgeon Shashi Bhushan Singh admitted that the power strike had crippled health services. "We have been without power since last afternoon. Our generators have failed. The situation is getting worse by the minute," he said.
General secretary of Jharkhand State Bijli Kamgar Union in Dhanbad R.K. Singh remained adamant on their stand against privatising of power distribution. "We have received a call from JSEB chairman S.N. Verma for talks. Unless an agreement is reached, no substation will be allowed to function. If the government applies force, it will be responsible for ugly consequences," he declared.