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Prayas plugs poor planning for load-shedding in Maharashtra  

Experts cite current power shortage in the state could have been avoided had Mahagenco (MSEGCL) and other generating companies planned their coal procurement appropriately.

pune Updated: Oct 11, 2017 16:51 IST
Jui Dharwadkar
Jui Dharwadkar
Hindustan Times, Pune
Load-shedding,power cuts,MSEDCL
NCP workers and supporters use their mobile flashlights to stage protest at Rasta Peth against load-shedding in Pune.(Pratham Gokhale/HT Photo)

Pune: The recent load-shedding by Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL) in the state has raised several questions on the power utility’s efficiency and planning. Prayas Energy Group, a non-governmental, non-profit organisation based in Pune, has accused the Maharashtra State Electricity Generation Company Limited (MSEGCL) of flawed planning that led to load-shedding.

Earlier this month, MSEDCL had stated that due to shortage of coal, the generators are not being able to produce enough power to meet the consumer demand. Due to the difference in power supply and demand, load-shedding was carried out in regions where losses have been more. A Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) order dated October 6 too has stated that the main reason for shortfall of around 6,600 MW electricity is inadequate supply of coal.

Speaking about the issue, senior research associate at Prayas Energy Group, Ashwini Chitnis said, "The current power shortage in the state could have been avoided had Mahagenco (MSEGCL) and other generating companies planned their coal procurement appropriately."

She added that it is unfortunate that in spite of surplus capacity and higher overall coal production, consumers of Maharashtra are forced to bear the burnt of load-shedding and high cost short-term power purchase.

City-based power experts have stated that during the monsoon as there is no agriculture load the overall power demand in the state is relatively less. After the monsoon, the power demand in the state goes up every year. Yet the power generating companies have failed to stock coal sufficiently and consumers are being made to suffer for their lack of planning.

City-based civic activist Vivek Velankar has stated that the reason for shortage of power put forth by MSEDCL which is that of unavailability of coal is itself questionable. He further said that there must be proper planning to deal with coal shortage which seems lacking.

Maharashtra Veej Grahak Sanghatana president Pratap Hogade too shared similar views.

Hogade said that presently the power generating capacity of MSEGCL is 30,255 MW. Even with this capacity, load-shedding was carried out by MSEDCL in March for up to 650 MW, in April for up to 615 MW, in May for up to 1,115 MW , and now again in September which clearly shows its lack of planning.

He alleged that the generating companies which provide 19,000 MW power during the summer season are currently finding it difficult to supply just 15,400 MW of power which highlights its lack of planning.

He said that the real reasons for load-shedding are lack of efficiency and lack of planning by MSEDCL and Mahagenco which must be addressed.

Hogade said that capacity charges paid by consumers must be returned for the period of load-shedding as consumers should not face the burnt of problems like unavailability of coal which they are not responsible for.

A statement released by MSEDCL on Tuesday has stated that the power demand in the state has reduced due to rains. As on Tuesday, the power demand in the state was 14,700 MW and the supply was also 14,700 MW and hence there was no load-shedding.The statement added that MSEDCL has purchased 1,450 MW of power through short term power purchase and 600 MW power through exchange.

NCP protest against power cuts

Members and supporters of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) on Tuesday staged protest against the load-shedding carried out by Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL) in various parts of the state. The protest was headed by Member of Parliament and NCP city unit president Vandana Chavan.

As part of the protest, NCP members assembled outside the MSEDCL office at Rasta peth and shouted slogans criticising the BJP government.

Speaking on the occasion, Chavan said, “Load-shedding is a result of lack of planning by the authorities concerned and is not because of shortage of coal as is being stated. Every year, after the monsoon and during festivals, the power demand in the state goes up. Hence, stocking sufficient coal was necessary which has not happened.”

She stated that along with the state Pune is also facing power outages in the past few days. “Load-shedding is seen at various parts across the state, including Pune. The situation in rural parts of the state is worst as there is load-shedding for 10-12 hours causing grave inconvenience to people. Even in urban areas there is power cuts for hours due to which consumers are facing a lot of inconvenience,” she said.

On Tuesday, the NCP members stated that the government had promised that there would be no load-shedding in the state yet power outages are seen frequently

First Published: Oct 11, 2017 16:49 IST