With monsoon remaining elusive and soaring mercury heating the city like coals, rampant power cuts are making life difficult for locals. Even the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) complaint offices and telephone helplines are hardly of any use for locals under such a situation.
The helplines are often 'not available' or are 'out of coverage area' when one tries to give them a ring for registration of a complaint.
Residents maintained that even the online complaint facility was not of much help to them as complaints are rarely transmitted to the technical staff. Though they claim to be doing their best to distribute power among residents, the mounting number of complaints belie the PSPCL's claims of efficiency.
The PSPCL officials attribute power outages to increase in the daily consumption of power. According to officials, the demand for power has gone up by 15% this year as compared to last year with the power corporation distributing around 30 lakh units of electricity every day. This, according to officials, does not include the Ranjit Avenue area, but the malls and the walled city area.
As against 250 complaints pertaining to electrical faults received on normal days, the department has received more than 400 complaints in the past over 15 days. Sources said a number of these complaints pertain to faults in the wiring, faulty fuses and other snags that hamper the supply of electricity. The development has led to increase in the sale of inverters and generator sets.
Suresh (name changed), who deals in inverters and gensets, said the sale of inverters had increased this year by 180%. "This is mainly because there is too much demand for inverters due to rampant power cuts," he said. Adding to the electricity woes of residents are loosely hanging wires, while most localities in the city do not have enough transformers to meet power needs.
According to a councillor, Gurinder Singh Rishi, his ward requires adequate
paraphernalia for electricity besides other civic amenities. He intends to raise the issue in the meeting of the MC House. "The area does not receive proper electricity. People do not know when snags will be repaired. I plan to get a generator set installed temporarily," he said.
Geetinder Kaur Bularia, another councillor, said while the power scenario was similar in the entire city, her ward had low-lying and uncovered electricity wires. "I shall initiate the project of getting these wires covered and lifted as soon as I get funds," she added.
Kanchan Sharma, a local, said besides scheduled power cuts, there were numerous unscheduled power outages that had made the lives of residents difficult. "Besides the day time, locals have to brave numerous power cuts at night time too. The unscheduled power cuts, too, are of prolonged duration and giving sleepless nights to residents," she said.
She maintained that locals had no choice but to depend on inverters and generator sets to beat the heat.
So intense is the problem of power cuts that the hum of generators has become almost synonymous with most localities, including Ranjit Avenue, Court Road, Lawrence Road, Cooper Road and other areas, throughout the day and night as well.
Ashwini Gupta of Dove Travels, who has his office in District Shopping Complex, Ranjit Avenue, said power cuts coincide with the business hours. "Our business timings are from 10 am to 6 pm. That's when power cuts are usually imposed. Because of power cuts, the rush of clients has decreased and the business is suffering losses," he said.
Gupta added that apart from power cuts, the District Shopping Complex sports a mesh of loosely hanging wires that pose a constant threat to the life and property of people.
He added that even transformers in the area were overloaded and required overhauling. "There is a dire need to revamp the electrical system in the interest of business and security of occupants of various enterprises and their clients," Gupta added.
Chief engineer (border range) Sudeep Singh Sandhu said the scheduled cuts were imposed between 10 am and 11 am and 2 pm to 3 pm everyday. However, when asked about unscheduled power cuts, Sandhu said, "Power transmission is controlled from Patiala. Unscheduled cuts are imposed when there is too much load on the system."
SE Balbir Singh, who mans city's power supply, said the peak demand for power has increased by 15% this year. He added that the department was doing its best to deal with complaints of various technical faults received in the past few days.
He said a DPR of Rs 385 crore has been prepared to revamp the entire electrical system of the city. "The entire electrical system would be revamped. The city would have four power houses, which would go a long way in improving power supply situation," he said.