As Madhya Pradesh continues to reel under frequent and unscheduled power cuts, officials of the state electricity company are holding bats responsible for the woes, claiming that they are causing faults in the supply lines, especially in Bhopal.
They say bats hanging on the power supply lines sometimes cause short circuits, which ultimately lead to outages.
The opposition BJP hit out the the ruling Congress in the state and said instead of giving these kind of excuses, the power utility and the state government should work in a responsible manner. The Congress claimed there is no crisis as Madhya Pradesh is a power surplus state.
However, State Energy Minister Priyavrat Singh said overloaded power transformers and not bats could be the main reason behind the problem. "In a review meeting of Bhopal district (on June 14), an official of the power company had said that bats are creating faults in the supply lines along the lake (Upper Lake)... But I don't think this is a major reason. I pulled up the official, who had said so."
"I told the official to repair the supply lines by insulating them. This work had already been carried out. I asked the officials to consider installation of ultrasonic devices, after due environment clearances, in the areas where bats are creating problems," he added.
At some places, a squirrel might also create a problem, he said. "But these are not the main reasons... The main reason of fault is overloaded power transformers. Maintenance of power supply lines was neglected for years. I asked the officials to carry out proper maintenance of the distribution lines," he said.
Spokesperson of Madhya Pradesh Central Power Distribution Company Ltd, Manoj Dwivedi, said: "The faults in power supply lines in the vicinity of Upper Lake (in Bhopal) were reported due to bats. This largely happens due to short-circuits caused by bats hanging on the power supply lines."
The company carries out work of insulation in such cases, he said.
JP spokesman Rajnish Agrawal said bats were there in that area of Bhopal earlier also, but power supply used to be uninterrupted.
"Instead of giving different kind of excuses, the power company as well as the government should work responsibly. Were the bats born only after the Congress came to power?" he asked.
The Congress government had earlier said that poor quality of transformers purchased during the previous BJP dispensation was the reason behind the electricity issues. The Congress, which came back to power in Madhya Pradesh after a gap of 15 years, had also blamed BJP workers and sympathisers in the power companies for creating problems.
During the campaign for the Lok Sabha elections in April this year, Chief Minister Kamal Nath had alleged that there was a conspiracy behind the power cuts in the state. At that time, state Finance Minister Tarun Bhanot had also said that some officials of the power distribution company were working against the ruling Congress, resulting in power outages.
"During the campaigning for the Lok Sabha elections, (Kamal) Nath, in order to hide his government's failure, used to blame the BJP and certain officials for power cuts. But even after the polls, outages continued in every part of the state despite it being a power surplus state," Mr Agrawal said.
He said inept handling by the Congress government has created this crisis.
However, the state Congress said the BJP has run out of issues and is raising a hue and cry over such non-issues. "Pre-monsoon maintenance is a routine process and it was happening during the BJP rule as well. The technical faults are being repaired. MP is a power surplus state and there is no crisis. Opposition is spreading lies," state Congress spokesman Pankaj Chaturvedi said.
"Due to factionalism within the BJP, the leaders of that party are trying to outdo each other and levelling false allegations," he said.