Power Minister Nitin Raut on Friday said in case all lights are suddenly switched off on Sunday night as mooted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, there is a possibility of the power grid being affected.
In a video message released on Friday night, Mr. Raut said the lockdown has changed the equation between power generation and supply. “At present, Maharashtra’s power demand has come down to 13000 MW from 23000 MW. Industrial load is zero. Only emergency and domestic demand is being served. In case of sudden drop in demand, as will happen if people switch off the lights at a single moment, power stations may go on high frequency. It could result in feeder trippings in the grid,” he said.
The Minister said power failure in a State like Maharashtra with huge demand may lead to multi-State grid failure, disrupting power supply across the country. “It takes 12 to 16 hours to restore power supply in that case,” he said. Mr. Raut appealed to citizens to light lamps and candles by keeping tube lights on. “This will ensure proper functioning of the grid and uninterrupted power supply,” he said.
Leaders slam move
Earlier in the day, leaders of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance questioned the rationale behind Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s appeal to citizens to light lamps on Sunday night, instead of talking about policy decisions, supply of medical equipment and ensuring the safety of medical professionals.
“What is required at this time is making available adequate number of ventilators, increasing the number of testing labs, providing doctors and their staff with PPE, to provide financial assistance to States to fight this crisis. Also, the general public needs to be given hope, to announce relief packages for people who have lost their livelihoods. Nothing of this was done only an event of lighting of lamps was announced,” said State Congress president and Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat.
The Congress leader said during such tough times, Mr. Modi is expected to take some firm policy decisions. “It is not the Prime Minister’s job to ask people to clap, light lamps. It is about time that PM gets serious about the real issue,” he said.
Former CM and senior Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan said instead of any concrete plan, the PM is relying on ‘thali (plate), taali (clap) and Diwali.’ “He should come forward with a press conference to answer questions important to the country. But he is happy with one-way conversation that lacks any concrete steps,” he said.
NCP’s chief spokesperson Nawab Malik said the PM’s address should have been about how to ensure food to the needy. and not about event of lighting lamps. Another NCP leader and Housing Minister Jitendra Awhad said Mr. Modi’s call was insensitive, irresponsible and lacked humanity. “At a time, millions of Indians are suffering, finding it difficult to sustain, medical professionals lack necessary equipment, the Prime Minister is busy in arranging events,” he said.
“It can only be compared to the Nero who played fiddle when the Rome was burning,” he said, adding that Mr. Modi is best at drama instead of doing actual work on the ground. Mr. Awhad said he will not participate in any such idiotic event and would rather donate that oil to be used in lamps for the poor and needy.
Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said when the PM asked people to clap, many came on the road with dhol (drum). He said, “Now he has asked to light a lamp. Let’s hope no one lights the fire.” Mr. Raut added that Mr. Modi should in fact speak about employment and food security.