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Powerless over power cuts

Smriti Kak Ramachandran
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Making the most of the summer:A girl enjoying c huski at India Gate in the Capital on Thursday, the hottest day of the season so far.- Photo: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar
Making the most of the summer:A girl enjoying c huski at India Gate in the Capital on Thursday, the hottest day of the season so far.- Photo: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

This is one reason that the discoms and the Delhi Government’s power utility Delhi Transco Limited claim to have no control over -- power cuts on account of “natural causes”. On Thursday, as large parts of the city reeled under prolonged power cuts, the discoms and DTL initially passed the buck and eventually settled for “unforeseen” and “unavoidable” circumstances as being the reasons for the power cuts that left consumers sweating in the sweltering heat.

Thursday’s power cuts came a day after the State Government read out the riot act to the discoms, cautioning against load-shedding and warning of consequences.

Asked about the power cuts that affected Dwarka, Vikaspuri, Punjabi Bagh, Najafgarh and Paschim Vihar among others areas in South, West and South-West Delhi, a DTL official said the disruption was on account of a “natural cause”.

“A 220 kV Bamnauli-Pappankalan line snapped at 3-16 p.m. The line expanded due to high temperature and a street light on the central verge of main road came in its clearance zone and it snapped. It resulted in 150 MW rotational load-shedding in Dwarka, Matiala, Bindapur and adjoining areas. The line is expected to be normalised by Friday morning as there is heavy traffic on the road, creating a hurdle in [carrying out] maintenance,” said a DTL spokesperson.

The DTL’s response did little to assuage angry consumers. “There is always a reason for the power cuts – it’s either shortage of power in the country or technical faults, what doesn’t change is the inconvenience to the consumers. On a day when the mercury is as high as nearly 46 degrees Celsius, what can the consumers do? Invertors don’t last beyond a few hours,” said Sanjay Garg, a resident of Dwarka.

In South Delhi, power cuts were reported from several areas, including Green Park, Gulmohar Park and Anand Lok, on account of a technical snag in BRPL’s grid system in Asiad Village. “On Wednesday night there were intermittent power cuts that lasted between 15 minutes and an hour. But on Thursday we had a three-hour-long power cut. In this intense heat it is nearly impossible to survive without electricity,” said V. K. Lal, a resident of Gulmohur Park.

A senior Power Department official pinned the blame for faults on the weather. Unabated heat and the mercury’s steep upward climb, without any relief, was responsible for playing havoc with the system, the official said.

“The systems are not equipped to withstand such intense heat for such prolonged periods of time. For the past three-four days now mercury has been constantly above 45 degree Celsius and there’s been no relief. The systems are under a huge strain, they are getting no time to cool down because there is such a huge demand for power and high temperature,” the official explained.

On why the systems have not been upgraded to be able to withstand the demand, the official said all the three discoms and the DTL are struggling with financial difficulties and have been unable to spend more on capital expenditure. “Because there has been no tariff revision and the revenue collections have been poor, no body has the kind of money to undertake the revenue-intensive exercise of system upgrade.”

The high demand for power has also intensified the risk of grid collapse and Delhi is expediting work for the implementation of the islanding scheme, a shield against the after-effects of a power grid collapse. Load-shedding had to be carried out over the past few days after fluctuations in the northern grid frequency.

The islanding scheme that was meant to be in place by January is expected to be implemented in the next few weeks.

On Thursday the peak demand for power rose to 5055 MW, crossing the 5000 MW mark for the first time this season.

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