M A I N   N E W S

Punjab reels under power cuts
Spends Rs 12 cr to buy power daily
Sarbjit Dhaliwal and Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh/Patiala, June 23
Life has become miserable in Punjab's countryside where various areas are being subjected to power cuts on a staggered basis lasting up to nine hours daily. Even in urban areas the situation is equally bad as consumers have to face power cuts ranging from six hours to eight hours.

There will be no relief from the agonising power cuts for the people of Punjab till the onset of the monsoon in this region. Power supply in bulk has been diverted from the industrial and domestic sectors to the agricultural sector to facilitate the transplantation of paddy. The PSEB authorities claim that they are providing power for eight hours daily to the farm sector.

Otherwise also the demand for power in the state has shot up because of the extremely hot weather conditions prevailing in the region. According to the forecast, the monsoon is expected to arrive by June 29. But it could be delayed by a few days.

Informed sources say that Punjab is buying power worth Rs 12 crore daily from various sources to deal with the crisis. Its daily demand is over 1,500 lakh units while the availability of power from all state and central sources is about 1,250 lakh units.

The PSEB is buying power at the moment even from a far-away state like Kerala. The sources say that a thermal plant in Kerala is supplying 36 lakh units. The supply is being routed from the southern grid to the eastern for further transmission to the northern grid. " The inter-connectivity of various grids is proving to be a boon for Punjab", said a senior PSEB officer.

Besides, the PSEB is getting 4 lakh units from the Atomic Power Plant at Kota in Rajasthan, 16 lakh units from Gujarat, an additional 20 lakh units from Himachal Pradesh and Uttaranchal, 25 lakh units from the unallocated share of the Central Government and 80 lakh units from the Nathpa Jakhri project. Over and above its share, the PSEB is buying about 250 lakh units from "outside" sources, it is learnt, at a cost of more than Rs 3 per unit. The PSEB is getting its full share from the Bhakra projects.

The sources say that because of transmission constraints, the PSEB cannot afford to draw more power than what it is drawing now from various sources.

There is a mandatory weekly off besides a four-hour daily power cut for industry. Urban areas are being subjected to power cuts lasting over six hours daily. Single-phase power feeders in the rural areas remain off for about nine hours.

Many farmers have delayed sowing of paddy as they have been finding it difficult to run tubewell motors on diesel-operated generator sets and hence started waiting for the power position to stabilise.

In certain pockets of Punjab, paddy, transplanted in first two weeks of this month, had started drying in absence of enough water to keep that submerged.

Not only this, the areas, getting 24-hour power supply and have started facing cuts of the duration of eight hours few weeks ago, have started facing cuts of 16 hours a day and now have been getting power for only eight hours.

Interestingly, severe power crisis in Punjab has become a blessing in disguise for those, dealing in the manufacturing and sale of diesel generator sets and inverters as they have been witnessing a huge jump in their sales compared the sales made by them in the corresponding period last year.


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