Frequent power cuts in peak summer have Mohali residents fuming

Published on Jun 15, 2022 03:14 AM IST

PSPCL officials attribute non-declaration of power load by residents behind crisis in Mohali; situation worst in Zirakpur, where residents have flooded various social media platforms with complaints of pesky power cuts

A boy entertaining himself with a smartphone amid a power outage in Mohali on Tuesday. (Ravi Kumar/HT)
A boy entertaining himself with a smartphone amid a power outage in Mohali on Tuesday. (Ravi Kumar/HT)
By, Mohali

The steady spike in temperatures, coupled with unannounced power cuts through the day and night, have left Mohali residents at their wits’ ends.

For weeks, amid record-breaking summer, frequent power outages have become routine in Mohali district, hitting those without inverters the hardest. Even those having power back-up have been left struggling in the face of long power cuts that leave their inverters drained out, electrical devices down and refrigerated food spoiled.

With children also at home in view of summer vacations at schools, residents working remotely amid the Covid pandemic have been hit by double whammy. Multiple power cuts trip computers repeatedly and drain out laptop batteries, forcing people to move to their relatives’ and friends’ houses in the more power-surplus Chandigarh to continue with work.

The situation is worst in Zirakpur, where residents have flooded various social media platforms with complaints of pesky power cuts, but nothing seems to be improving.

Residents from all over Mohali district, including Mohali city, Zirakpur, Kharar, Nayagaon, Mullanpur and in rural areas, claim this is the worst power crisis seen in years. Complaints to the power authority either result in no response/relief or mere apologies for inconvenience.

“Due to frequent power cuts, mostly at night, I have shifted to my parents’ house in Chandigarh, where at least my children can get peaceful sleep,” said Rampreet Kaur, who lives in Shivjot Enclave, Kharar.

Gurcharan Kaur, a resident of Kharar, said, “For more than a week, we have been suffering due to low voltage, which doesn’t allow us to use air conditioners or coolers.”

Zirakpur resident Kulbhushan said, “Power cuts have become synonymous with Zirakpur. Assurances are given every year about upgrades and repairs, but there is no improvement on the ground.”

In Balongi, after no power on Monday night, frequent cuts were imposed through the afternoon on Tuesday as well, said Rajwinder Kaur, a local.

The district has around 19 grid sub-stations, which get power supply from Rajpura and Rupnagar plants. PSCPL officials, not wishing to be named, said at many places, residents had not declared the power load, which was adding pressure on the feeder lines, resulting in frequent breakdowns in transformers.

They said the power demand in Mohali district had gone up by 20% over the past few years. While the average demand remained around 420 MW in peak summer, the supply to the district last year stood at 560 MW.

PSPCL superintending engineer Ashwani Kumar said any faults in the network were repaired swiftly to restore power supply.

Fire at sub-station makes situation worse

A major fire broke out at the PSPCL sub-station in Phase 1, causing power failure in many parts of Mohali city as well as the industrial areas on Tuesday.

The fire, which damaged one of the three transformers installed at the sub-station, was doused after two hours. Meanwhile, power supply was snapped to Industrial Area, Phases 1 and 2, and some parts of Industrial Area, Phases 3 and 4. Residents of Phases 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5, and some sectors also had to go without power for multiple hours.

PSPCL sub-divisional officer Gaurav Kamboj said one transformer was completely damaged, while the wires of other two also got damaged due to heat. He said the load was being shifted to other grids to restore power, adding that the cause of the fire was being investigated.

Fire officer Jaswinder Singh said a call about the fire was received around 4.50 pm, after which four fire tenders were pressed into action and the flames were doused in two hours. No one was hurt.

Panchkula residents sailing in same boat

The situation is similar in Panchkula, where SK Nayar, president of Citizens’ Welfare Association, said, “One to two-hour power cuts are routine in Panchkula. On Monday, there was no power from 10.30 pm to 12.30 pm in parts of Sector 15 and again from 9.30 am to 11.30 am on Tuesday.”

He said in other parts of the city, there are power cuts of 15 minutes to half-an-hour daily.

In Sector 8, RP Malhotra, a resident and president of the Federation of Residents’ Associations (FORA) said, “There was a power cut from 10 pm to 2 am on Monday night, leaving residents sweating as their inverters ran out.”

While power cut complaints fill RWA WhatsApp groups, Bhupender Singh Wadhawan, executive engineer, Uttar Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam, Panchkula, claimed there were no power outages in entire sectors in Panchkula. “Any brief cuts in some areas are due to maintenance work and power is restored quickly,” he added.

Power-surplus Chandigarh in better place

Despite higher electricity demand, Chandigarh has so far escaped any major power disruptions. The peak power demand is hovering around 390 MW, much higher than the average of 300 MW in June last year.

UT chief engineer CB Ojha said, “The power supply is under control, even as the demand has increased because of the heatwave. While the peak demand on Monday was 398 MW and 388 MW the day before, city’s assured supply capacity is 470 MW. The peak demand last year was 426 MW on July 8, which is also well below our supply capacity.”

But in some sectors, residents have been complaining of power fluctuations and low voltage. A resident of Sector 38 (West) said due to low voltage and fluctuations at night, they had to switch off the air-conditioners (AC) to avoid damage.

“We do hear instances from different RWAs and residents that ACs are not cooling or their compressors are tripping randomly. The electricity department should carry out a special drive to balance power distribution among the three-phase supply lines. Any excessive load on one phase is bound to disturb the three-phase power dynamic, which can hinder efficient running of ACs,” said Vinod Vashisht, convener, City Forum of Residents Welfare Organisations (CFORWO).

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