Residents in several localities in the city and its suburbs are experiencing voltage fluctuation and frequent power outage.

The Tamil Nadu Electricity Board (TNEB) cites the lack of sufficient number of substations as the reason. The TNEB is finding it extremely difficult to expand power distribution network in the city and suburbs for want of suitable land.

Of late, the TNEB's search for land has become intense in view of the widening limits of the city and increasing demand for electricity. This summer, the demand was 2,200 megawatt (MW), about 200 MW more than what it was a year ago. A senior official of the TNEB says the demand is expected to go up further.

The Board identified nearly 15 sites, classified as Open Space Reservations Space (OSR), in and around the city for setting up substations. It had approached the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) for de-reserving them. But, the CMDA rejected its request.

Acknowledging that there has been inadequate regulated development of the distribution network, the Board official attributes the problem of low voltage and frequent disruption in power supply to less number of substations.

Though the Board has drawn up plans for establishing substations, it is unable to translate them into a reality because of the obstacles in securing lands.

At present, there are 13 substations of 230-kilo volt (KV) capacity and two 400 KV substations. But, greater number of 230 KV substations is required to ease the feeder network. Some of the areas where the demand has been on the rise are Adambakkam, Mylapore, Virugambakkam, Valasaravakkam, Mylapore and Choolaimedu.

The official explains that one of the reasons for the Board's inability to establish more substations is the CMDA's refusal to set apart OSR sites for substations. So, the TNEB is thinking of other options such as going for underground substations and transformers.

A senior official of the CMDA explains that the Authority considers proposals recommended by local bodies concerned for de-reserving OSR sites on a case-by-case basis. The official points out that the Second Master Plan reiterates that the OSR areas have to be preserved as open spaces. Referring to various instances of the delay in land acquisition, another TNEB official says that the department has long been seeking the OSR land at AGS Colony in Velachery for constructing a substation to improve the distribution network.

(With inputs from Aloysius Xavier Lopez)

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