The Centre stepped in to address the power crisis in Delhi on Tuesday, ordering immediate release of gas supplies to power plants to help generate additional electricity and speed up repair of power lines damaged by the May 30 thunderstorm.
But it will still take 10-12 more days for the damaged lines to be restored. And the additional power will only provide partial respite from the rolling blackouts that have made life hell at a time when the mercury is breaking all records. This, the government noted, is because Delhi’s dilapidated grid network is incapable of absorbing the amount of power needed to meet the city’s rising demand.
After a two-hour emergency meeting with lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung and senior officials, minister of state for power, coal and new and renewable energy, Piyush Goyal, said there was no shortage of power that could be made available to Delhi but its “inadequate” transmission system would be unable to absorb it.
“Clearly, Delhi’s power grid, as it stands today, is outdated, needs augmentation and modernisation and may repeatedly have outages and tripping problems,” he said.
Delhi, Goyal said, can absorb a maximum 400 MW (megawatts) above its existing availability of 5,300 MW — falling short of the current peak demand of 5,800 MW. Around 218 MW will be generated immediately by the additional gas supply to the Bawana and Pragati gas power stations.
Read: Goyal meets L-G, Delhi govt official over power crisis
With the BJP holding the 15-year Congress dispensation led by former CM Sheila Dikshit responsible for the situation, Goyal said if a better transmission network had been built in the last 10 years, fuel could have been provided to produce an additional 1,100 MW of power.
The Congress and Aam Aadmi Party, meanwhile, blamed the BJP-led government at the Centre for the crisis.
The crisis has been exacerbated by storm damage to power lines.
Power department officials said the situation remained critical as the carrying capacity of the emergency restoration system, which has been put in place, was almost half of the main transmission lines, which are being restored. Also, if they tripped, entire areas would be powerless with nothing else to fall back on.
Goyal promised that the three power transmission lines damaged in the storm would be restored but even at a swifter rate, it would still take 10-12 days.
With all of north India reeling under a severe heat wave, temperatures in some parts of Delhi have reached a 62-year high in the past few days.
Read: Govt tries saving power in the face of Delhi heat
This has led to a huge surge in power demand with residents cranking up their air-conditioning.