Power cuts a man-made crisis

NEW DELHI, JULY 24. Not shortage of electricity but massive local faults in the distribution network and gross mismanagement by the power utilities have been responsible for the long hours of unscheduled load-shedding in Delhi this summer. The figures of availability and demand for power over the past few months released by the Northern Regional Load Dispatch Centre (NRLDC) reveal that Delhi Transco had been regularly "under-drawing" electricity from the grid during the period when the Capital was reeling under a severe crisis.

"The figures speaks for themselves," said a top official of the Power Grid Corporation of India. "This reflects poorly on the performance of Delhi Transco and the privately owned power distribution companies. Massive load-shedding, despite adequate availability and allocation of electricity, means there has not been the level of desired upgradation and improvement in the system, since the power reforms were unleashed two years ago," the official said.

Commenting poorly on the management and efficiency of Delhi Transco, the official said a majority of the power cuts in South Delhi this summer has been because of faults at its level. "There has not been much maintenance of its system. Even basic requirements of maintaining a distribution network has not been adhered to," he said. It is understood that the NRLDC and the Power Grid have written to the Delhi Government and the Delhi Transco and urged them to upgrade the system.

The official, who had recently got an opportunity to study the Delhi's power system and make recommendations for its improvement, said the poor performance was also due to the technical incompetence of Transco engineers. "It is basically dead wood. They are old and waiting for their retirement. The best engineers have been taken by the private discoms," he said.

Giving details of the situation this summer, the monthly report prepared by the NRLDC said that in June Delhi on an average met 64.48 million units of electricity per day against the requirement of 64.99 million units. "This means the shortfall was just 0.78 per cent, while load-shedding was of more than 15 to 24 hours across the Capital this month. The crisis was such that even the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission had to take cognisance of the crisis and had directed the BSES, the local discom, to install generators in the colonies where load-shedding was effected," the official said.

This very month Transco consumed as many as 277.52 million units of electricity less than what was allocated. "Same is the story of the other months this summer. So where is the shortage?" he asked and was quick to point out the tariff order of the DERC, in which the regulator imposed a hefty penalty of Rs. 2 crores on the BSES for its non-performance and strongly warned Transco of a similar penalty if it did not mend its ways and improved its performance.

On Thursday, when Transco claimed that its supply was reduced by 400 MW, NRLDC figures revealed that the Capital met a load of 3,371 MW at 9 p.m. At the same time, it was under-drawing 136 MW. Even Friday morning, the Transco was consuming just 1,355 MW against its allocation of 1,708 MW. Officials pointed out that under the Availability Based Tariff (ABT) regime, Transco has to pay a hefty penalty for wastage of electricity.

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