Even as Chandigarh residents sweat it out, literally powerless in the annual battle with searing heat, the UT administration has failed to plan ahead. And even where it has plans, these remain on paper.
This has meant a rise in power cuts, most of these unscheduled and affecting mainly the sectors south of Madhya Marg. The 'posh' northern sectors have almost always had it much easier, even when it's the south that has more residents and resource potential.
For the south, the Chandigarh electricity department hasn't even mooted a proposal to come up with a dedicated 220KV grid sub-station. The department is drawing power from the SAS Nagar 220KV grid sub-station, which is being controlled and maintained by the Punjab State Transmission Corporation Limited (PSTCL). This grid, in effect, has to meet 47-48% of the total power demand of the city.
The dire need of having the UT's own 220KV grid at the southern end of the city was once again brought to fore on Wednesday night, when half the city plunged into darkness for six hours after the Punjab power authorities shut down the grid to repair snags in the transmission lines supplying power to the state's towns.
"Power supply will obviously be smoother if we install more advanced power distribution infrastructure. If the UT power department has a grid directly under its control, we can easily manage the quality and supply of power. Then, if there are cuts, these can be scheduled so that people can at least plan their days," said a senior power official of the administration, requesting anonymity.
Absence of a 220KV grid at the southern end is again in contrast to the northern sectors, for which the authorities had planned a separate 220KV grid in the mid-'90s, which was eventually commissioned in 2005 and is being managed by the Chandigarh electricity department. This grid, located in Kishangarh, supplies 47% of the power consumed in the city.
"We have realised the need of one more 220KV grid in the city, and we have started planning for it too. The department of urban and town planning has been told to earmark two sites locations in the master plan of the city, after which we will float a formal proposal," claimed MP Singh, superintending engineering, electricity wing of the UT's department of engineering.
MP Singh may claim belated realisation of the obvious, but the ignorance of the administration is such that has yet to complete the process of upgrading the existing grid sub-stations in Sector 34 and 52.
This is another major reason behind the unscheduled power cuts in the southern sectors. In fact, admitting that the existing capacity of these sub-stations is not sufficient, the department had last week announced some scheduled power cuts in the southern sectors.
"The power crisis is looming large over the southern sectors as the administration, in all these years, has remained busy in upgrading and maintaining the power distribution infrastructure of the northern sectors, where most of the bureaucrats and elite of the city reside. We have never witnessed such a power scenario in the city in the past 30 years," said PDS Uppal, a resident of Sector 44. He added, "Priority, both in supply and upgrading, should be given to sectors where the density of consumers is more."