Let there be light: 108 years of electricity supply in Indore

  • Padma Shastri, Hindustan Times, Indore
  • Updated: Jul 26, 2015 17:44 IST
Glancy power house today serves as the headquarters of MP West Zone Electricity Distribution Co Ltd. (File photo)

The year 2015 marks 108 years of electricity supply to Indore. As the Union government prepares to table the Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2014 in Parliament, sparking fears of tariff hike and harsh revenue recovery, Hindustan Times digs up the history of the city’s power supply.

When electricity supply to the city began in 1907, little did people imagine that it would bring notices and warnings though it would make life a lot easier.

An electricity bill issued on August 15, 1947 by Government of His Highness The Maharaja Holkar Indore Electric Supply to Khajuri Bazaar resident Seth Ambaram Chhotuji Dindorkar carried a notice saying, “Your premises will be disconnected without notice if payment is not received before August 23, 1947, provided the dues exceeded 75% of your deposit.”

This bill of Rs 2, 12 annas and 6 paise had the signature of Indore Electricity Supply chief engineer BN Sibal. Among four clauses printed on the bill, clause 2 stated that if a consumer doesn’t receive his bill by 7th of every month, then he should write to the Indore Electric Supply before 10th, failing which it will be presumed that the consumer is in due receipt of the bill.

“People were amazed when electricity supply began in Indore. But some people found it costly and embarrassing as there would be inquiries about load use. This is what my late father would say,” said 78-year old Chikitsak Nagar resident S Charuchandra.

A letter sent by the Madhya Pradesh Electricity Board on October 12, 1959 to Messrs Rustomji in Mhow asked the firm to provide it details of direct current equipment it was using. Granting it two days’ time, the Board said that if it didn’t receive reply, it will be “taken for granted that you do not have any DC equipment and no claim or appeal will be entertained under any circumstances, whatsoever, at a later date.”

Energy generation began in Indore as Holkar rulers needed it to light up their palaces. As a result, the first electricity power generation station of 150 KW was set up in Juni Indore in 1907 at cost of over Rs 3 lakh.

“At present, it supplies power to all palaces, government buildings, roads and houses,” stated a 1923 Indore city guide published under Holkar rule.
The growing demand for electricity from 1914 to 1927 forced Holkar administration to invoke Section 6 (1) of Indore Land Acquisition Act I of 1919 for acquiring 9.631-acre land close to Ahilyashram and Pologround. Finally, the land was acquired and power plant was built on it which Reginald Glancy, the then British Agent to Governor General in Central India, inaugurated on March 12, 1929.

Indore ceased to be power generation centre after 1955 as large power plants commissioned in MP began to supply electricity. At present, Glancy power house serves as the headquarters of government-run MP West Zone Electricity Distribution Co Ltd which supplies electricity to 14 districts of Indore and Ujjain division.

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