STF, UPPCL experts still clueless on Janmasthami blackout in UP
The special task force (STF) of police and the experts of the UP Power Corporation Ltd (UPPCL) are still to unravel the mystery shrouding the incident involving the blackout caused in several cities due to snag in over two lakh hi-tech smart meters on Janmasthami.
Investigators, however, have not ruled out the possibility of the sabotage.
While it is taken for granted that a wrong server command generated from the centralized control and command centre caused all the problem, those probing the issue are clueless as to who gave the wrong command and why.
According to UPPCL chairman and additional chief secretary, Arvind Kumar, the departmental technical committee and the STF are examining the issue from all possible angles but not much headway has been made yet.
“It is clear that the problem occurred because of a wrong command from the server. The issue before us, however, is to find out whether the sending of a wrong command was due a technical error or it was given deliberately as a mischief,” he said.
The STF that has been looking into the issue primarily from the conspiracy or sabotage angle for the last several days has not been able to make any headway. “There is a state of utter confusion so far largely because we are not being provided with the details we are looking for,” a top STF official told HT. He said it was too early to make a comment but the possibility of sabotage could not be ruled out.
The departmental technical committee, led by Lucknow discom managing director, SP Gangwar, is learnt to have submitted its report to the UPPCL management on Wednesday.
“The committee has not reached any definite conclusion though it has blamed some wrong command as the reason for making smart meters defective causing blackout in consumers’ residences,” they revealed.
The Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL), company that has partnership with Union power ministry, purchases smart meters for UP and also manages the UPPCL’s control and command centre in Lucknow. The company had suspended two of its command centre officials the same night.
UPPCL has already installed around 10 lakh smart meters and is in the midst of purchasing 40 lakh more. One of the features of these meters is that power supply of a consumer gets automatically disconnected if they do not pay their bills by the due date but on August 12 a large number of consumers went powerless even though they did not have any arrears pending against them.
The EESL has admitted in one of its correspondences with the UPPCL that around 1.60 lakh smart meters went powerless on Janmasthami. Though UPPCL bosses claim all the meters had been rectified the next day, sources claim a large number of meters were still defective.
UP Rajya Vidyut Upbhokta Parishad chairman, Awadhesh Kumar Vera, meanwhile, on Wednesday, filed a public interest litigation with the UP Electricity Regulatory Commission (UPERC) seeking strict action against the UPPCL, EESL and other stakeholders in the smart meter blackout matter. “The installation of outdated technology-based smart meters in UP is a clear violation of the Central Electricity Authority’s Advanced Metering Infrastructure Rules,” he pointed out in his complaint.
Meanwhile, the work of installing smart meters in the state has been deferred for the next 15 days, minister of energy Shrikant Sharma said on Thursday. After the power cut on the day of Janmashtami, the quality of smart meters installed by the Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation has been questioned by the experts.
He said , “Around 40 lakh electronic smart meters are to be installed in the state. Till now around 12 lakh smart meters have been installed in cities like Lucknow, Varanasi, Meerut and Kanpur, but after the blackout on Janmashtami, I have directed the officials only to install meters with advanced technology which cannot be tampered with either by officials or by consumers.”
Sharma said it is important to learn lessons from the past. “That’s why only advanced smart meters would be installed so that such incidents may be avoided,” he said.