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Power supply: Centre-state spat hots up

THE CENTRE-STATE spat over power supply is getting hotter even as the people reel under acute and prolonged blackouts throughout Uttar Pradesh. While the Centre has warned UP not to draw electricity from the Northern Grid more than its quota when the grid frequency is low, the latter argues that it is not getting its full quota of electricity from the Central sector power houses and, hence, it was forced to overdraw to meet its requirements.

india Updated: May 01, 2006 00:47 IST

THE CENTRE-STATE spat over power supply is getting hotter even as the people reel under acute and prolonged blackouts throughout Uttar Pradesh.

While the Centre has warned UP not to draw electricity from the Northern Grid more than its quota when the grid frequency is low, the latter argues that it is not getting its full quota of electricity from the Central sector power houses and, hence, it was forced to overdraw to meet its requirements.

At a meeting held by the Northern Region Load Dispatch Centre in Delhi a few days back, UP was told to make it a point not to overdraw electricity from the grid when the frequency was 48 hertz and below. “Overdrawing of power during low frequency can lead to collapse of the grid and UP cannot be allowed to indulge in grid indiscipline,” it was told.

However, ignoring the warning the UP Power Corporation Ltd (UPPCL), the power utility, continues to overdraw power from the grid to the extent of 300-400 MW every day.

“We have no option but to overdraw because while the demand is touching 7000 MW the total availability of power is not even 5,000 MW,” said a senior UPPLC official adding, “after all we are paying for each unit of power being drawn from the grid.”

He also pointed out that overdrawing of power by UP should not be a problem for the Centre because there are some States like Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal and Punjab which were drawing less power from the grid. “Since many Sates are drawing less power because they do not require that much, we are overdrawing because we need more power,” said he.

In fact, UP has a total share of around 3500 MW of electricity produced by the Central powerhouses. However, it is getting only around 2200MW of power against the share at the rate of Rs 2 per unit. It is not getting its full share due to some Central sector powerhouses including those of the NTPC not generating electricity to their full capacity. For example, UP has a share of 300 MW of power in the Naftha-Jhakri powerhouse but not getting more than 50-100 MW.

Likewise, from the Rihand power house the State is getting only 350 MW out of 700 MW share. So, it has to overdraw around 300-400 MW of power every day to face the situation. The power it overdraws comes at a very high cost of Rs 5.70 per unit.

The State Government has repeatedly been asking the Centre to allot it 500 MW of additional power from the grid in view of prevailing power crisis. A few months back, Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav had even written a letter to then Union Power Minister PM Sayeed. However, instead of accepting his demand for additional power, the Centre squarely put the blame on UP’s inefficiency for the prevailing power crisis.

Union Power Secretary RV Shahi in his letter (Dated January 13, 2006) to the UP Chief Secretary said that UP was getting 20-25 per cent additional electricity from the unallocated quota.

The share, he said, was higher than that of any other State. Besides, he pointed out that UP’s failure to set up new power houses, renovate and modernise the existing one, its inability to contain high transmission and distribution losses and control rampant power theft were mainly responsible for its crisis. “Increasing plant load factor of it power houses and reducing T&D losses by only 15 per cent can solve much of the power shortage problem of Uttar Pradesh,” he stressed.