If India on its 60th Independence Day didn’t have most of its people suffering under conditions much worse than power failures in its capital, one would have had to invent these worse conditions. Fortunately for the authorities — and unfortunately for the residents of Delhi — issues like poverty, rural-urban disparity, non-electrification of villages etc. do exist, making serious scandals like power outages in 21st century Delhi seem like an urban whine. The fact of the matter, however, is that one can’t possibly mouth hosannas about India’s growing economic might and, at the same time, keep the residents of its capital literally in the dark. Granted, consumers must use power more economically. But when one goes beyond the paternal advice and stern warnings, it becomes clear that there is serious failure — and one doesn’t only mean a power failure — in the way the authorities have been going about things to make the power situation better.
Delhi’s peak power demand is 3,415 MW and the shortfall is of 750 MW. The 17th power survey of the Central Electricity Authority tells us that by next year Delhi’s demand will go up to 4,464 MW. One doesn’t have to be an engineering genius to know that to match even the current demand, the supply levels have to go up. Unfortunately, the Delhi Transco Company has its own plans. It has stated that by August 18 things will ‘improve’ when the 330 MW Pragati power plant and the 210 MW Badarpur thermal power station are restored. That, if we are not wrong with our numbers, adds up to 540 MW, clearly a supply less than the required 750 MW. As for the power demand projections for next year, Transco doesn’t even think it will touch the 4,000 MW mark. Thus, Delhiites seem to be faced with a peculiar choice: either suffer with power cuts or suffer by not using electricity consuming items so as to lower demand.
It is not our case to state that laws and regulations pertaining to, say, air-conditioners be flouted. But there seems to be utter confusion regarding what is required to be done by the authorities to stop the residents of the capital from living without power for hours on end. If the authorities believe that problems of electricity failure in a metropolis is not a priority, then it should be honest about it and say so. There are ways in which Delhiites can then prepare themselves to become the residents of an anachronistic hick-town that happens to be the host of the 2010 Commonwealth Games and the capital of a country with a roaring economy.