It wasn’t a night that will go away easily. Shaken by the city’s first power riots, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit called a meeting of all the stakeholders on Wednesday. And they left with just one instruction: never again.
Dikshit faces polls later this year and power troubles, with water, are known to play havoc with incumbent governments. And a power riot of the kind that took place in Mukherjee Nagar on Tuesday is a worrying sign.
In fact, Mukherjee Nagar residents had had two really bad nights — suffering power cuts stretching for hours, first on Monday night and then again on Tuesday. They mobbed the local power utility office, and stoned it.
No one was fortunately injured. But the authorities got the message. Officials said the chief minister pulled up power officials and private utilities for failing to ensure proper maintenance of transformers and other equipment which tripped, causing Tuesday’s breakdown.
Dikshit also told police to ensure that power cuts do not lead to law and order problems. “The police have been asked to react promptly to any complaint related to power cuts,” said a senior official.
Dikshit also came down heavily on Transco — the government-owned transmission utility — for failing to ensure regular maintenance of its transformers, the officials said.
Tuesday’s incident — when a mob damaged NDPL’s office to protest against unscheduled outages — could have been avoided had Transco acted in time and repaired a 100 MVA transformer at Gopalpur.
The transformer, which supplies power to large parts of north Delhi, broke down in April.
According to the rules, each zone under the power utility has to be provided with two transformers so that when one breaks down, power supply continues with the help of the backup. “In this case, the main transformer had broken down in April. As usual Transco was going ahead with repairs at snail's pace. On Monday night, the back up transformer also got burnt,” said a power official. Delhi Power Secretary Rajendra Kumar termed the situation extraordinary. "Such incidents do not happen ordinarily. It's just that when one transformer was undergoing repair the back up also got burnt," he said.
While the transformer will be repaired eventually, and it will be back in use eventually, the government, the distcoms and, most importantly, the city will not find enough power to make good the shortfall in a hurry.