Temperatures in the high 40s, hot ‘loo’ winds and, now, daily power cuts lasting up to five hours at a stretch — it’s a cruel summer in Delhi this June.
More than a week after a violent thunderstorm snapped power lines, the city continues to reel under daily and frequent outages. It was a sleepless Friday night for most in south Delhi where the power went off for three hours at a stretch and stayed on the blink most of Saturday. A group of angry residents even reached the power distribution company’s office late Friday to protest.
“There was a fault in the Okhla grid and a number of areas supplied from there were impacted. Discoms had to carry out loadshedding,” a senior power department official said.
In West Delhi, the blackouts stretch to five hours, while north and east Delhi are no better off.
Lieutenant governor Najeb Jung, who has held several meetings to review the power and water situation, held out little hope. He said repair of power lines would take more time.
The city’s power demand is currently 5,300 MW (mega watts) and the power department expects it to touch an all-time high of 6,100 MW sometime this month. Discoms say they are ready to meet this demand, and that the current crisis is not due to a supply deficit but because of local faults.
All these explanations, however, are no comfort to Delhiites.
“There was no power for more than two hours yesterday and for three hours today. I had to get new batteries for my inverter. The subsidy was removed and the tariff is so high, yet we still face problems. If this is the situation in posh colonies, I wonder what’s happening in the rest of the city,” said Rajiv Kakria of the Greater Kailash-I RWA.
The weather also refuses to cooperate. Saturday’s maximum temperature was five notches above normal at 44.9ºC. Palam, the city’s hottest spot, recorded it at 47ºC — close to Friday’s 47.2ºC, a 19-year record. The weatherman said the blazing heat would continue for at least three more days.
“The heat has taken the fun out of the weekend. My wife and I spent all day at a mall with our little son for the air-conditioning. He couldn’t take the heat even inside the house,” said Kamal Dogra of IP Extension.
Attacking the Centre, Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal tweeted, “Major power cuts across Delhi. BJP needs to explain and take immediate action.”
It’s the same story in the NCR. Gurgaon residents have been sweating through rolling blackouts of up to eight hours daily for the past month. They complain that the Dakshin Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam helpline numbers don’t work and officials ignore their calls. In Noida and Greater Noida, people complain that power cuts at night are the worst.
Like their Delhi counterparts, discoms supplying the NCR towns claimed the crisis was due to transformers overloading and other faults, not because supply was short.
With the heat wave rolling through all of north India, so are the blackouts. Several localities in Uttar Pradesh have seen power employees held captive and power stations attacked by angry residents. In the capital city, two junior engineers with Lucknow Electricity Supply Administration were beaten and held hostage for hours. They were freed only after the police intervened.
(With inputs from HTC Lucknow, Gurgaon, Noida)