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Grim scenario as Government miscalculates power demand

By Our Staff Reporter

NEW DELHI, JAN. 23. Even before the onset of winter, the Principal Secretary (Power), S. Regunathan, who also happens to be the Chief Secretary of Delhi, had issued a clear warning to Delhiites that they would face a grim power scenario over the next few months. Mr. Regunathan's assessment is coming true as the city residents are facing one of the worst winters in the recent times with massive load shedding and unscheduled power cuts badly affecting their daily routines and schedules.

It is not that the Government had pre-empted the situation, but somewhat mismanaged the power purchase agreements with other States and the Central Government leading to miscalculation of the demand and supply. But what is surprising is the misleading statements of the authorities time and again that the present power crisis was largely due to fall in hydropower generation owing to shortage of rainfall this season. However, this is not only misleading, but also not factually correct. It is common knowledge that during the winters every year, the hydropower generation goes down drastically with States like Himachal Pradesh and Uttaranchal having hardly any surplus power to supply to other States. The fall in hydropower generation is not due to shortage of rainfall in any given season, but because of snowfall in the higher hills and the catchment areas of the hill States.

The fall in water levels in hydropower projects during winter is a common thing and even a power surplus State like Himachal Pradesh has to resort to power cuts during winter months in some areas due to shortage of generation. This also affects the availability of power in the Northern Grid and therefore Delhi also stands affected by this whole cycle. However, unlike in the past when power arrangements were made months before the onset of winter or summer season, this time no such thing has happened.

In fact, it was for the first time that people of Delhi were warned about the bad power situation through an official press release before the actual winter began giving excuse to the power distribution companies to undertake major cuts and avoid purchasing power at higher prices when the frequency levels come down drastically.

"The people of Delhi are being made to pay for the miscalculation on the part of the Government and senior bureaucrats this time. This is one of the worst winters during recent times and hardly supports the claim of the Government that privatisation of power had brought a sea change in the power situation or its availability," a senior Minister remarked.

There has hardly been any relief this winter for the Delhi Government and even the Central Government has not come to its rescue. Delhi's attempts to get power from Andhra Pradesh has not borne fruit as the State has made it clear that it does not have any spare power. The tsunami tragedy has demolished the hope of power purchase from any other part of the South India as had been done in the past. As for the Eastern Grid, there has been little or no attempt to get power from this part of the country. The Government should get down to chalking out a strategy for the summer season otherwise things might get even more serious.

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