“I don't like sitting in the verandah and studying but I have to get used to it slowly” “I just hope they go by the planned cuts, and don't introduce erratic cuts”

As news of the two-hour power cut that will take effect from Monday sinks in, people in the city are bracing themselves for an extended ordeal.

On Sunday, residents like S.Devi, who works in a private company in Thiruvanmiyur, were out to purchase emergency lamps for use in the office. “My supervisor asked me to find out how much a lamp costs so I came here to have a look,” she said, accompanied by her niece Kavita who studies in class XI.

With board exams round the corner, school students too will have to work on their schedules. From Monday, R. Suganya, a class XII student, will go for entrance coaching in the morning instead of the evenings. This is because her class timings have been changed. “Our entire schedules have to be modified to suit the power cuts,” she said.

For others like Sai Prakash, a student who is preparing to attempt class XII examination, it calls for all the more rigour and new habits. “I don't like sitting in the verandah and studying but I have to get used to it slowly,” he says.

The extended power cut is bad news for those who need medical assistance at home or in nursing homes for chronic ailments as well.

“We provide dialysis at subsidised rates to eight persons everyday at the Lions Club of Avadi. Now that the power cuts are going to be extended by an hour, many patients will be affected as we cannot extend our working hours,” said B.Gajapathy, a member of the Lions Club of Avadi.

Livelihood matters

As for small businesses which are significantly dependent on electricity they have a tough road ahead. Shanmuga Sundaram, in Thiruvanmiyur, collects old newspapers and magazines and sells them to the recycler everyday.

“Work comes to a stand still because the electrical weighing machine will not work during the power cuts and I cannot dispatch the load. And by the time the power returns and I get my load to the recycle unit in Kodambakkam, it is time for their cut. We are paid on day to day basis, and the rate of the paper is only going down. We will lose a lot of our income this way,” he said.

His story is not unique, for several others engaged in various professions and small businesses are quite worried too. “There is nothing more I can do,” said K. Sasi, a hair dresser, lighting up a mosquito coil at a dingy shop in a complex in Adyar. Summers are usually a good time for him as at least five customers come for an ‘army cut' every day, but this year, the situation might not be the same. “No one wants a hair cut without the fan. I had a shop right on the main road 55 years ago. Due to rising prices I had to relocate here,” he added. He envies the next-door Salon Topaz which has an air conditioner that will try to retain the customer at least for some time. However they have their own set of woes.

“Inverters work only for one hour, and can be used to run just the fan and tube lights and not the steamers and dryers that we use. With the investment we make on infrastructure, we will get the gains only if we have clients who want day long services, which is ruled out now,” said R. Venkatesh, owner, Salon Topaz.

Most flour mills also have a tie- up with hotels and restaurants, and have deadlines. They run on diesel generators which his has increased their power cost. “We charge Rs.5 for a kilo of flour, which can be increased to Rs.7. We cannot work during nights because the rules don't permit us to. The immediate requirements of customers cannot be addressed, and that might mean losing some of our customers,” says R. Vasanthi, Bhavani maavu mill, Mylapore.

The power crisis is forcing some to consider alternatives for supplementing their income. V. Atmaram of G Xerox feels that the power cut from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. will affect his business more as it falls within the peak time when most students come there. To compensate for the loss, he has started spiral binding now. “I just hope they go by the planned cuts, and don't introduce erratic cuts,” he added.

Backup power

Altering schedules and finding additional sources of income may be one way to cope with the situation, but equipping households and business units to function during the power cut seems to be a popular strategy as well, if the steady sale of emergency lamps and invertors is any indication. “Since April last year, we have been selling 30 to 40 pieces every month and due to the power cuts, it is only going to get higher during the summer months,” said M.Kathirvel, branch manager, Chellamani & Co. in Thiruvanmiyur. At the Vasanth & Co. outlet in T.Nagar, R.Siva, a sales person said that in the last month alone over 25 pieces have been sold.


Many residents have installed inverters which have become a necessity to tackle prolonged power cuts, said V.Karthikeyan, who has worked as a salesman at S.S.Annamalai Enterprises for 23 years. “In March, the sales will pick up as summer will set in and school exams will begin,” he said.

Salespersons at companies dealing in electrical appliances feel customers are interested in the aesthetics of the product and are not worried so much about the energy consumption.

“While power production is stagnant and has not increased, most consumer durables that are available in the market, run on electricity,” said Mr.Karthikeyan. “Unless consumers are careful and save energy, the situation is only going to get worse.”

Keywords: power outage


Vasudha VenugopalJune 28, 2012

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