Residents of Noida fail to understand why they can't get 24-hour electricity supply in a city that has officially been declared a 'no power cut' zone.
It's not that they don't pay for electricity. One-third of the revenue generated by Uttar Pradesh through electricity comes from Noida and Ghaziabad. In fact, as compared to other districts in UP, Noida has the highest average per unit cost.
As a specially-planned city, which remains a favourite with BPOs, IT companies, MNCs, professional colleges and export zones, Noida has also witnessed a real estate boom in recent years. Still, residents are subjected to unscheduled power cuts over more than three-four hours daily.
In the absence of uninterrupted power supply, residents have to rely on generators and invertors. In around 100 high rises, mostly developed by private builders, power backup costs as much as R12 per unit.
"During load-shedding, we rely mostly on power supplied by our builders. That is very expensive and burns a hole in our pocket. Many residents have installed expensive generators," Dr. Dineshwar Sharma, a member of the Sector 50 Resident Welfare Association (RWA), said.
Officials of the Federation of Noida Resident Welfare Associations (FONRWA) termed the condition pathetic. "The power situation is worse during summer. There would be power cuts for over seven hours a day," said N. P. Singh of FONRWA.
Apart from 1.5 lakh commercial and residential connections in Noida, power supply to industrial units also experiences four-six hours of cuts every day. Export units in Noida account for monthly exports worth R2,000 crore but suffer from power shortage, Noida Entrepreneur Association president Rakesh Katyal said.
Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation Limited (UPPCL) officials, however, dismiss the claim. According to them, there is only a two-hour 'emergency cut' daily, thanks to local faults, breakdown of transmission lines or over-loading of sub-stations.
Although Noida's energy requirements have seen a yearly rise of 25 per cent, plans to ensure uninterrupted power supply have not kept pace with growth amid delays and inadequate infrastructure.
The UPPCL needs around 72 new 400KV transformers for different residential sectors, but the matter has been pending for the past six months due to various reasons, including finance. Also, a demand for six 33KV sub-stations is still pending.
According to a UPPCL official, a 220KV sub-station at Sector 129 is yet to become operational. He hoped that it would be commissioned by year-end. Had the sub-station been operational, the industrial hub's electricity requirements could have been met by additional 200MW.
UPPCL officials claimed that there was no shortage. According to them, what the need of the hour is the upgradation of infrastructure.
Backup bills burn a hole in pocket
Sector 50, Noida
Vineet Chaudhary, a Sector 50 resident, feels his monthly budget bloats by around R1.600 due to power backup bills. The society has set up the system to ensure uninterrupted supply for its nearly 160 residents.
"The society has setup a generator and each house pays R1,600 for drawing power and gets a load of around 1 KW. This alternative is needed due to power cuts which last for 3-4 hours and increase to more than 7 hours during peak summers," Chaudhary said. Despite this, he said, air conditioners, coolers, microwaves and refrigerators cannot run on power backup.
Chaudhary feels that unscheduled cuts are not justified. In certain posh sectors, like 14 and 15A, there are no cuts or they last for less than one hour each day.
Chaudhary is also concerned about air pollution due to diesel-run generators. Residents and his family members are exposed to the exhaust, but they have no choice.
(As told to Kapil Datta)
Industries fend for themselves
Sector 60, Noida
A huge industrial unit, manufacturing polyester and Biaxially-Oriented Polypropylene (BOPP) films, at Sector 60 had procured separate feeder lines from the electricity department for a load of 6000 KVA. Due to erratic power supply, the UFLEX management decided to install self-generation systems and high-capacity generators for continuous production.
"Our unit requires uninterrupted supply of power without any fluctuations. In its absence, film-processing and production gets hampered and leads to loss in production and wastage of manhours," Dinesh Jain, Joint President (HR), said.
The unit now runs exclusively on generators. "The power supply is our backup now. We have gradually increased production. It was a huge investment though," he said.
(As told to Kapil Datta)
Uninterrupted power supply by 2010
Superintending Engineer, Uppcl, Electricity Urban Distribution Circle, Noida
Noida is a 'no-power-cut' zone. But still people have to face hours of load-shedding.
We have certain transmission and infrastructure problems in Noida due to which the 24-hour power supply is yet to be achieved. Capacity enhancement and infrastructure upgradation should be carried out immediately.
Despite the problems, the power cut is only for two hours.
So, when can Noida expect uninterrupted power supply?
We are working on the load-shedding issue and hope to resolve it by 2011.
By the year-end, the sub-station at Sector 129 would be operational.
This means an additional supply of around 200 MW.
How will capacity enhancement take place?
We have sufficient finances from the district and also the Noida Authority. Noida already contributes around R130 crore to the state's coffers.
Power crisis deepens during summer. What is the remedy?
There is no shortage of power as we have a supply of about 700 MW. This is sufficient to meet the demand at any point of time. The local faults lead to cuts as the sub-stations are overloaded.
(As told to Kapil Datta)