The inside story: How government is keeping Delhi in the dark
Eight to 10 hours of power cuts every day. That’s the reality of a city preparing to host the world in the Commonwealth Games next year.
In this prolonged summer, with temperatures hovering around 44-degrees Celsius, the Capital’s residents wilt under load-shedding for hours during the day. In the night, the children and the elderly bear the brunt of humidity and heat.
“Power distribution companies don’t give out schedules. People are helpless as their helplines do not respond,” said Pankaj Aggarwal of RWAs Joint Front, an umbrella body of residents’ associations.
And the all-powerful Chief Minister, who kept the power portfolio to her after a record third term in office, blames it on the elements.
“It’s too hot. Local sub-stations are breaking down because of the heat,” Sheila Dikshit told Hindustan Times.
When power was privatised seven years ago, Delhiites thought their outage worries were over. Instead, the city is in the middle of one of its worst power crises since distribution went private.
Before the General Election, armed with around 4,500 MW of power, the government promised uninterrupted electricity this summer.
That turned out to be a hollow election promise.
Polls won, the Delhi government says it is battling a supply crisis with just 3800 Megawatts available. One Megawatt equals thousand Kilowatts that can run 20,000 fluorescent lights.
The government blames low production and the national shortfall and just about everything but itself.
Experts say private distributing companies (Discoms), run by Reliance and Tata, two of India’s biggest business giants, are at fault. “Discoms go to buy power at the last moment when availability is less hence costly. They want to maximise profits (at the cost of consumers),” said K.K. Govil, former director (projects), Power Finance
But the discoms are unwilling to accept that anything is wrong. The city meanwhile is waiting for the launch of a 1500-MW gas-based power plant in Bawana, North Delhi in a couple of years. Other hope comes from a 1000-MW plant at Dadri, about 50 km east of Delhi in Uttar Pradesh, to be commissioned by September 2009.
But there is no immediate relief. “Power plants don’t come up in a day. The government has to make some interim arrangement like tying up for more power till such time that the proposed power plants come up,” said V Raghuraman, former Energy Advisor, Confederation of Indian Industries.