Power cuts drive Vasai-Virar residents round the bend

Power woes: Vasai-Virar residents face power cuts during monsoon due to high wind pressure  

Even before the official onset of monsoon, residents of Vasai-Virar have been facing power cuts thanks to poor maintenance of overhead wires and the Maharashtra State Electricity Board’s inability to complete the work of underground wiring, which began over a decade ago.

While residents have resorted to signature campaigns and rallies for the authorities to take note of the issue, MSEB’s Superintendent Engineer, Palghar district, Dinesh Agarwal said the monsoon started in the region on June 10 and there was a power failure due to some technical fault on that day. A day later, too, there were some other minor issues which caused power outages, but post that, power supply had been stable.

“MSEB has failed to maintain the overhead wire network. I don’t remember the last time they changed the wires and so it is not a surprise that year after year we face power failure during monsoon,” said Rajesh D’Abreo, a Vasai resident. Mr. D’Abreo said apart from the fact that MSEB has been failing to deliver, people too need to be more co-operative. “When MSEB’s workers come to chop trees ahead of the monsoon, people are resistant, and grumble later when things go wrong,” he said.

Another resident, Helan Carvalho, said power failure has become an everyday occurrence in the region and that at times, there are power cuts for hours together without notice. “Managing household chores becomes a task with indiscriminate power failure. People have written to MSEB several times to no avail. Underground wiring was a glimmer of hope for us but years later, there seems to be no development in that work,” she said.

MSEB initiated the work of laying an underground wire network in the region in 2005 and till date, out of the 9,000-km line in Vasai, Virar, Nallasopara and Wada, only 250 km has been laid underground.

Speaking of the delay in completion of the work, Mr. Agarwal said that every year, new schemes are introduced under which budget is allocated to various works. “At present, there are two schemes under which work is being undertaken for 2018-19; the Dindayal scheme for rural areas with a budget of ₹20 crore and the Integrated Power Development Scheme for urban areas with a budget of ₹78 crore,” he said.

Providing electricity to places that still don’t have a connection and maintenance of the existent network deserves a greater budgetary allocation, Mr. Agarwal said.

“Underground wiring has not been a priority as it is an additional expense and MSEB works on a tight budget. In the last cable line that was laid, we have made some sections of the line underground. It usually depends on how risk-prone the area is,” he said. According to MSEB, three human deaths and six animal deaths due to electrocution were reported in the region in 2018.

Mr. Agarwal said the Central government has been planning to make underground wiring a norm in the coastal belt as high wind pressure in these areas causes rapid deterioration of overhead wires.

“If the plan becomes a reality, the underground wiring work, which is now far from complete, will speed up,” he said.

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Printable version | Jun 19, 2021 10:52:37 AM |

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