With peak summer months here, power cuts are back to haunt Punjab.
Several parts of the state are witnessing power cuts, and the Punjab State Power Corporation Ltd is struggling to cope with the sharp increase in demand for electricity as a result of the rising mercury.
While two days ago, Punjab had surrendered power from the central allocation due to less demand, but on Thursday, the state fell short of nearly 46 lakh units of electricity, resulting in imposition of power cuts.
The maximum demand on Thursday was 6,646 MW at 8 pm, while it was 5,557 MW at the same time last year. "The sharp increase in demand by 1,100 MW was unexpected. We have to come up with an effective plan to deal with the situation," said a PSPCL official.
As usual, the industry bore the first brunt with the PSPCL imposing three-hour peak load restrictions on industrial consumers.
All the major cities, towns and rural areas faced power cuts. While the main cities had to go without power for 40 minutes, power cuts in other district headquarters lasted for up to three hours. The situation was much worse in rural areas, which had to put up with five-hour power cuts.
"We are staring at a crisis. The situation will turn grim in the next couple of days as no power plant will be operational in Punjab. The demand is likely to be 12% more than last year. And we didn't add a single unit. So again we will have to purchase power from other states. We are relying heavily on good monsoon showers this time. A poor monsoon will result in long power cuts," said a PSPCL official.
The unrestricted demand on Thursday was 1,393 lakh units. Despite purchasing 114 lakh units of power from outside, the PSPCL could manage only 1,350 lakh units, forcing it to impose cuts, he said.
While the post of PSPCL director (distribution) is lying vacant, PSPCL chairman-cum-managing director KD Chaudhary could not be contacted for comments as he was busy in a meeting with the chief minister at Chandigarh.