That the long-drawn outages Delhi faces every summer is because of the government’s failure to augment its fledgling power-generation capacity is a known fact among the city’s policymakers and power experts.
But even ordinary Delhi’ites hold the government responsible for turning a blind eye to the situation and not doing enough to ease their power woes. According to the HT-C Fore survey, 69 per cent city residents think Delhi should have its own power-generation plants to meet its requirement.
Also 41 per cent respondents think power shortage is the main reason behind Delhi’s poor electricity supply.
Power experts blame the government’s indecisiveness for the acute power problem the city faces every summer. “Delhi’s own power plants have become old and dilapidated. One cannot depend on them for a steady supply. Gas-based power stations like the one coming up in Bawana should have been commissioned long ago,” said AK Saha, retired chairman, National Thermal Power Corporation.
Experts say not only did the government sat over proposals to set up power plants within the city but also failed to take timely decisions on finalising future power arrangements for the city despite many opportunities coming its way. Here is a low down on one such lost opportunity.
Dhamwari Sunda plant in Himachal
The Himachal government was planning to set up the 70MW hydro plant in the state and in 2001 it signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Delhi Vidyut Board (DVB) to sell the entire quantum of the power generated from the plant to Delhi. Subsequently Transco Board — the government-owned power transmission utility — had also passed an order to purchase power from the plant and approved the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). But the PPA did not materialise, as by that time the DVB was unbundled.
Transco did go to the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission to get the tariff approved for the project but it was rejected. Since there was no financial closure, the project failed to take off. “Had necessary initiatives been taken at that time to clear the project Delhi could have got 70MW assured power from the Himachal plant. Though the quantum was not huge it could have gone a long way to tide the present power shortfall. Delay in taking timely decision resulted in Delhi losing out on this project,” said K.K. Govil, retired director, Power Finance Corporation.
Experts also feel the government could have taken the following measures to prevent a shortfall
Small, localised power plants
With land availability a major constraint, experts said the government and distcoms could have set up small, localised power plants in high-load areas. “Not only is the gestation period for setting up such plants is less, but it could have been used to isolate areas it caters to from outages in times of power breakdown,” said a retired DVB official. Distcoms on their part say they are interested to set up power plants provided the government gives them land and clearances on time.
Experts say the power shortages Delhi is facing can be very effectively managed if the distcoms make adequate power arrangement in time. “Most of the time the distcoms wake up late and then crib they can't afford to buy expensive power. The distcoms know in advance what will be the anticipated power requirement during summer," said a power ministry official.