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Punjab’s drive to save power
Offices to work from 8 am to 2 pm
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 23
No airconditioners will be allowed in government offices in Punjab which will now function from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. as the State Government announced a series of austerity measures to tide over severe power crisis aggravated by failure of south-west monsoon.

According to informed sources, the Government has also decided that all commercial establishments throughout the state, including shops, will now close at 6 p.m. instead of 8 p.m. Shops and commercial establishment will compulsorily remain closed on Sundays.

In the districts, all government offices will function without airconditioners till the power supply position normalises. The timings of offices have also been changed to minimise the load on power supply.

The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has already enforced regulatory measures, including imposing power cuts on rural domestic, urban domestic, industrial and commercial consumers.

The industry in the state, for example, has been ordered to keep two off days a week as cut on urban industrial feeders varies from five to six hours a day. Cut in urban domestic consumers is for 10 hours a day. There are, however, some exceptions.

While power cuts are non-existent in Patiala, the home town of the Chief Minister, the timing of cuts in some other towns, including Jalandhar and Kapurthala, are much less than the announced 10 hours.

Interestingly, there are no power cuts on rural domestic consumers from 7 p.m. to 8 a.m. Similarly, there is no cut on urban domestic consumers from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Though the Punjab State Electricity Board, which is now self dependent as far as finances are concerned, has tie-ups for additional power of 555 MW from both Western and Southern Region, but because of the non-availability of transmission lines and congestion on the corridor, the state cannot benefit. Even otherwise, the State buying power has to pay a heavy price for transmission charges in addition to the cost of the power it buys in open bidding.

Punjab’s agreement for purchase of 100 MW power from Uttaranchal could not materialise because the supplying state is facing power shortage because of failure of monsoon. Similarly, another tie-up for purchase of 150 MW by diversion from Madhya Pradesh is pending with the Ministry of Power, Government of India.

As of today, the chances of power supply position improving looked bleak. There is still no positive indication of south-west monsoon becoming vigorous in the region. In many areas, worried farmers have started thinking about alternatives.

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