With water, or the lack of it, being blamed for power-cuts during the summer, water, or the excess of it, is being blamed for the power-cuts across the district in the rainy season.
For the Mangalore Electricity Supply Company, the monsoon brings with it a flood of complaints, and shortage of staff sees the company struggling to keep up.
According to the Superintendent Engineer (Electrical) U.B.S. Sukumar, the control room (1917) has seen more than 23,000 complaints come their way so far since June 1, of which 22,000 complaints had been attended. “We have attended more than 90 per cent of the issues raised… but rural areas remain a problem,” he said.
The magnitude of the rains sees gusts and heavy rains demolishing around 1,200 poles in the district this season, and Mr. Sukumar estimates that only 100 of these occur in urban areas. “There are almost no trees in the cities to effect a tree fall related disruption. In rural areas, with more trees, there are more damaged poles,” he said.
The problem in the hinterlands is also compounded by the acute shortage in staff. Mescom officials said only around two or three linemen were present in each of the 18 sub-divisions in rural Dakshina Kannada. “There is about 70 per cent vacancy in the linemen cadre here. Because of this, we have had to outsource it to agencies. But, they cannot cope with the work load as permanent works can. There is a lot of problem in rural areas, especially Sullia, Belthangady and Bantwal,” said an official, and added that in places like Kariyangala in Bantwal taluk, there was no power for two days now.
While Mescom claims to address problems in Mangalore city within 12 hours, officials admit that when insulators fail – that is, an electrical element problem – the blackout lasts longer. “Insulator failure cannot be spotted visually. Because of this, the power keeps tripping until the insulator is identified; and this can take up to a day. Yeyyadi and Kuloor have experienced this,” said the official.
But, Mohiuddin Bawa, Mangalore North MLA, disputes the speedy response of the company. “Some areas in my constituency have not had power for three days. From Kuloor to Gurupura, there is major power problems, and I get hundreds of calls,” he said.
Contacts: Toll-free number for complaints: 1917 (from landline), 1800-425-1917 (from mobile)