Power cuts are back to haunt national Capital

  • Ritam Halder
  • Updated: May 25, 2016 12:05 IST

NEW DELHI: Power demand in Delhi has gone up alarmingly this summer with the rise in mercury. It touched an all-time high of 6,188MW on Friday.

At 6,000MW, Delhi’s peak power demand is over 65% more than Mumbai (around 3,700 MW), almost thrice than Kolkata (around 2,100 MW) and nearly four times the power demand of Chennai (1,500-1,800 MW).

The government and distribution companies say there is no shortage of power even though the demand may touch 6,500MW. Despite claims, several parts of the city are reporting long power outages.

One of the primary reasons for disruptions are local faults. The discoms and some power officials say these are taking place due to the network getting little time to cool down since power load remains consistently high. The government blames the distribution companies for lack of “routine maintenance”.

On Friday, the 400 KV Maharani Bagh to 220 KV Lodhi Road Circle transmission line at the Delhi Transco Limited’s end tripped. It hit power supply in parts of South Delhi, including South Extension, Defence Colony, Nizamuddin, Vasant Vihar, East of Kailash, Jangpura and adjoining areas. Overloading of Transco’s 220 KV Ballabgarg BTPS circuit hit power supply to Okhla and adjoining areas.

Similarly, on Thursday, a glitch in DTL’s Bamnauli-Pappakalan 220 KV transmission line affected power supply in parts of West Delhi, including Dwarka and Uttam Nagar.

“Due to extreme heat and power demand round-the-clock (night time too) for the past few days, the electricity network is not getting sufficient time to cool down. This can stress the network and at times, increase faults,” a power department official said.

The extreme heat is also to be blamed. Delhi has been declared as a red zone by the India Meteorological Department because of abnormally high temperatures this year. This month, the city witnessed a high of 46.4 degreesCelsius at the Palam station. The more the heat, the more the demand for power.

This was evident from Monday power load when the peak demand was as low as 4,834 MW due to slightly cooler weather.

Another reason is the unprecedented load growth in high power theft areas, leading to tripping and ‘burn out’ of distribution equipment.

“Theft in unauthorised colonies affects supply in adjoining planned colonies. Overloading due to unauthorised, withdrawal of power and power theft put a heavy strain on the distribution network,” a power official said.

Delhi was no stranger to long power outages when distribution was handled by state utility Delhi Electricity Supply Undertaking (DESU) and then Delhi Vidyut Board. The scenario changed after 2002 when power distribution was handed over to private companies.

Power cuts may have reduced ever since but the system remains vulnerable to age-old problems. Residents and activists have been alleging that the discoms have increased tariffs but failed to strengthen the network. The discoms owe huge sums of money to power generation companies that have been threatening to cut supply to Delhi if dues aren’t paid. The AAP government in Delhi had been demanding a CAG audit of the discoms’ accounts.

After complaints of power cuts emanating from different parts, the government has now issued an ultimatum to the power companies to plug all the holes in the system and stop outages.

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