Will Akhil Pandey do well in school this year? Will his cousin get her driving licence soon?
The answer to both questions is ‘no’, unless the power situation in Dwarka improves.
Of late, the five-member Pandey family has been sleeping fitfully, due to the erratic power supply at night.
Often, 15-year-old Akhil, a Class 11 student, is too groggy in the morning to catch his school bus at 7.15 am.
His cousin misses her driving class for the same reason.
“Our fault is that we did not buy an inverter,” said Gyani Pandey (51), Akhil’s mother. “You just cannot survive in Dwarka without an inverter.”
Dwarka residents know no life without the drone of a generator or the buzz of an inverter.
So, hardly any housing society in “Asia’s biggest sub-city” now remains without power backup and an inverter is a mandatory fixture in each DDA flat.
Residents who invested their life’s savings into a house here are outraged.
“I had to leave my 72-year-old ailing mother at my cousin’s place in Rohini because power cuts were making her ill. I had told her that I would bring her back the moment the situation improved. That was almost a year ago,” said Anil Kumar (48), a senior government official and resident of Sector 18.
Anxiety about power cuts here borders upon paranoia. For instance, Nav Sansad Apartments — a housing society in Sector 22 whose members are mostly former bureaucrats and parliamentarians — has invested in a high capacity generator worth Rs 1 crore.
Almost two-storey-high and with a footprint larger than the floor area of a flat, the generator consumes diesel worth Rs 50,000 every month to power 250 homes.
“Each family pays Rs 2,000-3000 per month for backup power, over and above the normal electricity bill,” said Rejimon CK, President of Dwarka Forum, the federation of residents’ associations in Dwarka.
The price of backup power in Dwarka ranges from Rs 9-11 per unit. “With the cost of power backup mounting, we are considering converting the diesel generators to run on CNG,” said Rejimon.
Many housing societies are planning to upgrade their ‘basic’ power backup to run all appliances normally.
“We need the (bigger) generator to power heavier appliances and for longer hours,” said KM Kapoor, RWA president of Sheetal Vihar Apartments in Sector 23, which already has a functional diesel generator.
Battered on battery power
Unlike housing societies that pool in to set up generators, DDA flat residents have to battle outages individually. Inverters are the preferred remedy, but they are only good for running lights and fans for a few hours.
“No power also means no water for us,” said Sunil Sareen (43), resident of Sector 19 DDA flats.
Life comes to a standstill for the Sareens — a family of four, including two students — during long power cuts.
Without power, they cannot switch on the booster pump to lift water to their apartment, and the children cannot study once the inverter discharges.
“On days we have gone without a bath and even lights and fans,” said Sareen.
Dark and dangerous
Nearly 80 per cent of streetlights in Dwarka do not work, according to a survey done by the residents’ forum.
“Because of the darkness, even the park right outside my house seems unsafe,” said 25-year-old Simi Nair, a call centre executive and resident of Sector 3.
Here, too, residents have had to help themselves. Housing societies have installed halogen lamps at their gates to illuminate the approach roads. “How long should we keep waiting (for the streetlights to work)?” said KM Kapoor of Sheetal Vihar Apartments.