The reason for Gurgaon’s power crisis is simple: it needs 1700 MW of electricity but gets a little less than 1200.
The effects of this three-digit shortfall – altogether 525 MW – are more complicated. It means that the 16 lakh residents of Millennium City have to go without electricity for 6-8 hours everyday.
Most residents are helpless, but those who can afford it, opt for captive power plants. And pay through their noses: “We cough up Rs 11.40 per unit for uninterrupted power. As honest taxpayers, we feel short-changed by the government,” says Rajender Sharma, a businessman living in DLF Phase IV.
The more than 250 national and international Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) firms in the city, as also the 2200 industrial units, also have to depend on diesel gensets. “BPOs run captive plants at least 12 hours a day, adding substantially to the cost of their operations. This is making us uncompetitive in the global market,” says Sam Chopra, President, Business Processing Industry Association of India (BPIAI).
Is there a way out of the crisis? Not in the near future.
“The first unit of a 625 MW thermal plant will get functional by 2009 end. For meeting our existing requirement, we are purchasing power from other states at Rs 9 per unit. It’s very expensive,” says Anurag Agarwal, managing director of Dakshin Haryana Bijli Vitaran Nigam (DHBVN).
What brought the city to this sorry pass?
“Power generation capacity has not been augmented in the last two decades. Even the existing power distribution and transmission network has not been upgraded,” says S.S. Vohra, retired engineer, DHBVN.
Residents also blame the problem on indiscriminate grant of development licences to real estate developers. “The authorities should have made the developers responsible for providing power infrastructure before giving them licences,” says RS Rathee, president, DLF Qutub Enclave RWA.
As per the licensing conditions of the Town and Country Planning Department, it was the developers’ responsibility to set up substations for their townships at their own cost. However, most of them have failed to comply with this condition, resulting in poor distribution infrastructure.