Putting to shame the Punjab government’s claim of Punjab being a power surplus state, rampant power outages have thrown life out of gear in Amritsar, not just affecting household chores and office functioning, but inflicting a heavy loss on industries too.
Apart from scheduled cuts, the increasing consumption of power by the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) construction work and the shifting of utilities including the electricity poles, wires, cables and transformers, has also been cited as a reason behind the frequent unscheduled power outages in most parts of the city.
With the temperature soaring high day-by-day, unscheduled cuts have left residents sizzling, while forcing offices, commercial establishments and industries to use power generators, which is a costly affair that increases production cost.
Besides these, technical snags that hit the power supply infrastructure every now and then only add to the residents’ trouble.
All these factors together have created a power crisis scenario in the city that belies the state government’s claim of surplus power in Punjab.
Though right from households to educational institutions, commercial establishments and hospitals, the power outages have affected almost everyone and every area, Madan Mohan Malviya Road and its surrounding areas, including Mall Road, Lawrence Road, Queen’s Road and Court Road, affected most by the problem. The same is true for the walled city and other areas.
PC Sharma, advocate and an RTI activist, who is a resident of Madan Mohan Malviya Road, said: “The area witnesses frequent and numerous power outages for the past four days, ranging from half an hour to five hours or for just even a few minutes. He attributed the outages to premature sowing of paddy in some pockets of the district.
“Power is being secretly supplied to the farmers in these pockets to irrigate their paddy fields, while the authorities concerned are turning a blind eye to it,” he claimed. Sharma said he made several attempts to bring the matter to the notice of the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) authorities, but in vain. “They hardly answer to residents’ calls,” he said.
According to Brij Bedi, a local resident, there should be no power cuts as the state government claims that Punjab is a power surplus state. “If there is a power surplus, why there are so many cuts in the city everyday? The ongoing BRTS work is also often blamed for the poor power scenario in Amritsar. Let’s wait and see if things improve once the project is over,” he said.
Amrit Lal Jain, president, Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal, said power outages had made life hell for the residents, besides causing heavy loss to trade and industry. “Industry cannot function when power is out. Rampant outages coupled with prevailing trade slump have badly affected commercial activities in the city,” he added.
Stating that rampant power outages have belied the government’s claim of Punjab being a power surplus state, Jain urged the government to issue a white paper on the actual power scenario in Punjab.
However, PSPCL border zone chief engineer NK Gandhi said the outages in the city were a few and scheduled. “There are no power outages. The PSPCL is undertaking maintenance work of the power infrastructure in the city under which old lines and cables are being replaced with new ones.
This often calls for power shut down in areas where the work is being undertaken,” he said.
Besides, power often shut down in areas where the BRTS work was going on, he said. “Since electricity poles are being shifted to pave way for the BRTS, power remains cut as long as the work is in progress,” the chief engineer added.