Delhi sweated and swore as ACs and fans went still for long hours throughout the day. Power came in short intervals, playing a pricey guest. It left without leaving a message or giving a hint of its return.
It all happened on Friday as the city experienced one of its worst-ever power crisis — a shortage of 900 MW. Like last week, there is little hope of things improving. It can only get worse from here.
Why is it happening?
Delhi government's power department has as usual failed to make advance arrangements. Only now, after the situation has worsened, it has gone to other states, shopping for power. It has managed to arrange 475 MW from Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa. But here too, the government's inaction has deprived the city of this additional power.
Though 475 MW has been arranged, the government has failed to get it to Delhi as all the transmission links (from where this power can be transmitted) have been booked to capacity and cannot transmit any more power. Delhi power secretary Rakesh Mehta said, "We're facing a problem to get the power to Delhi as all the transmission corridors are booked." This, experts said, could have been avoided had the government acted on time.
A power official said according to the Central Electricity Regulatory Authority (CERC) order, states have to apply three months in advance to book transmission lines. After this if a margin is left in the transmission lines it is given on a first-come-first-serve basis. "What was the Delhi government doing all this time? When they know that they face a power crunch every summer why did they not apply earlier?" a Central Electricity Regulatory Authority official said.
No Idea of requirement
What compounds the problem is the fact that the power department has no idea of its power requirement. The department’s 2006 Summer Action Plan for the first fortnight of July had anticipated a demand of 3,650 MW and a shortage of just 200 MW. In reality, the shortage since the first week of July has been 700 MW.
When will it improve?
Not immediately. Union power secretary R.V. Shahi has called an emergency meeting on Saturday to find a solution. Some power might come to Delhi next week. As of now two units of Delhi's own generation plants are not working. One unit of Badarpur Thermal Power Station has been shut for 45 days for annual maintenance. Forced outages in other central stations from where Delhi gets its share have added to the crisis.