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Unscheduled power cuts disrupt online classes, work from home

Unscheduled power cuts of six to eight hours every day over the last two months are causing an array of problems, said residents, with students unable to attend online classes and working professionals facing difficulties in completing their tasks or attending meetings
By Leena Dhankhar, Gurugram
PUBLISHED ON MAY 31, 2021 11:14 PM IST

Unscheduled power cuts of six to eight hours every day over the last two months are causing an array of problems, said residents, with students unable to attend online classes and working professionals facing difficulties in completing their tasks or attending meetings.

Residents alleged that the problem is further compounded by expensive power backup solutions, which cost them 17 per unit, more than double the cost of 8 per unit for the government supply. Residents have threatened to strike at the power distribution’s officer later this week if the issue remains unresolved.

Rajkumar Yadav, the president of Sector 46 RWA, said that they have complained to all officials concerned, including the chief engineer of the DHBVN, but to no avail. “We have attended several meetings with the power minister and district-level officers to present the electricity issues in our sector. Despite six months elapsing since the last meeting, they have not been able to come up with a solution. If the situation does not improve, we will not pay DHBVN bills and will protest for the privatisation of the department. We will hold a dharna pradarshan against the department at the DHBVN office,” he said.

The problem is especially acute in DLF Phases 1 and 2, sectors 46, 57, 48 and 22, Palam Vihar, Sohna Road and Golf Course Extension Road. Residents alleged that despite multiple calls to the staff of Dakshin Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam (DHBVN), the distribution company, they have failed to get relief.

PK Chauhan, the superintending engineer of DHBVN, who took charge on Monday, said that they have worked out multiple plans to ensure an uninterrupted power supply. “Regular power supply is our prime concern and the department is working towards it. There was an issue for three hours on Sunday due to storm and rainfall but was resolved by night. All linemen have been asked to be on alert and to reach the spot from where they receive complaints,” he said, adding that inspection will be carried out and issues will be resolved.

Officials said that the peak demand in the city is around 2,000 megawatts (MW), of which 1,700 MW is consumed by urban parts. The average daily demand of the city is 1,125 MW.

DHBVN officials also said that once the Smart Grid project is completed, expected by 2022, it will fully resolve all power supply issues.

However, despite officials’ assurances, residents said that the power cuts are a recurring problem every summer but are hitting them hard this year due to the ongoing pandemic. They said that the electricity department regularly cites failure in feeder lines, infrastructure improvement and failure from substation time and again as the main reasons for outages. They alleged that the smart meters, installed over the last 15-18 months, are not working correctly which is leading to inflated bills.

“Not a day passes without unexplained electricity cuts resulting in loss of working hours for professionals and study hours for children. The state of infrastructure has seen negligible improvement over the last decade and despite the electricity department imposing cuts in the name of improvement, the situation has only deteriorated,” said Sunil Goswami, a resident of DLF Phase-1.

During the recent wave of the spike in Covid-19 cases, there were many instances where persons in home isolation were on oxygen concentrators and the unscheduled power cuts threatened their lives, said residents.

“Every day, we are suffering between four and six hours of cuts and then fluctuations during the other times. Sunday was an exception as there was a dust storm and heavy rainfall, but this is happening continuously over the last few months. We have a Covid-19 patient in home isolation and on an oxygen concentrator, for whom it is important to have an uninterrupted power supply. Major infrastructure change is required and proactive maintenance is completely missing here,” said Sudhir Bhardwaj, a resident of Sector 56.

Amit Jindal, the president of Vipul Greens residents’ welfare association (RWA) on Sohna Road, said that regular electricity cuts directly impact the residents’ energy bill as it increases their diesel generator (DG) consumption. “DG unit rate is almost more than double the cost of DHBVN unit rate, leading to extra burden when there is a salary deduction in most of the private sectors. Since most of the people are working from home, frequent power cuts are disrupting meetings. Online classes for children are also being disrupted with unit tests starting in 15 days. The department should urgently install infrastructure that can withstand the squalls and rain during which they necessarily shut off the electricity supply,” he said.

Residents also alleged that frequent voltage fluctuations are affecting the operation of household appliances and motor pumps, which causes water shortage. They said that additional transformers must be installed at the earliest to ensure smooth supply.

Vinod Tayal, a resident of DLF Phase 2, said that frequent breakdown of electricity infrastructure indicates the substandard quality of transformers, jumpers and cables. “There is an urgent need to increase the budget for maintenance of electricity infrastructure since the demand for electricity consumption has grown exponentially in the last few years, whereas the budgets allocated for upgrade and maintenance has not. The cuts also make it difficult for the residents to switch on their water pumps, leading to water shortage. The government must look into this,” he said.

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