Power crisis is here to stay in Punjab, amply reflected by the decision of Punjab state power corporation limited (PSPCL) to increase the scheduled cuts in both domestic and industrial sectors.
PSPCL officials quote unavailability of cheaper power in the market as the reason behind these renewed regulatory measures. "The rate of power per unit has increased manifold due to the unprecedented demand across the country. The rates, which, till last year, were between Rs 3-4 per unit, have now crossed Rs 9.35 per unit. Purchasing power from other sources has become very costly now and our finances don't allow this," said director, distribution Arun Verma.
Because of the inability of PSCPL to purchase power, there is a shortage of around 1000 MW. We have no option but to increase the cuts, said Verma.
As per the new schedule of cuts imposed on Tuesday, the domestic sector will face an eight-hour cut from the existing five-hour schedule. In the industrial sector, the one-day weekly off has been increased to two days for general industries, while for rolling mills and arc/induction furnace industries, power will be off for three days, informed a PSPCL spokesman.
Already, the unscheduled power cuts ranging from 3-4 hours were taking its toll on the domestic and industrial sectors. In rural areas, the situation was grim with many domestic lines providing supply only for 8-10 hours because of the compulsions to provide minimum eight-hour supply to paddy growers.
Another development that has added to the woes of the corporation is that Unit-1 of Ropar thermal plant of 220 MW has been shut down for at least three days following a snag in its turbine on Tuesday. "We are trying hard to remove the problem as soon as possible," informed director, generation, GS Chabbra.
Meanwhile, the powercom has blamed Haryana and Uttar Pardesh for the power scenario in Punjab, as the two states are withdrawing huge power from the Northern Regional Load Dispatch Centre (NRLDC). "UP and Haryana were hugely withdrawing power from the northern grid. Because of this, Punjab has to pay more to withdraw its share from the grid," an official of PSPCL alleged.
Notably, NRLDC has fixed Punjab's limit of withdrawing power at 5400 MW per day from northern grid, whereas no limit has been imposed on UP and Haryana.
As a self-regulatory measure, PSPCL has re-imposed the ban on use of air-conditioners in its office. It is learnt that PSPCL managing director KD Chaudhary has written to the chief minister requesting that all state offices refrain from using ACs.