M A I N   N E W S

PSEB wants cuts; its boss had said there
won’t be any

Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 15
Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) chairman Y. S. Ratra has assured consumers in the state that there will be no power cuts this summer even though the board had filed a petition before the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC) seeking permission to impose power cuts in the coming five months.

Ratra in a recent statement had claimed that there would to be no power cuts and also stated that industrial cuts would be last on his list.

However, facts speak otherwise. The PSEB in a petition before the PSERC has sought authorisation to impose power cuts, peak load restrictions and other regulatory measures for 2008-09. These also include compulsory weekly off for the industry. The application was filed in March.

Ratra said the board was trying to ensure that the consumers had a comfortable summer. He said as far as the petition was concerned, the board had to make such a representation to cover exigencies.

In fact, power cuts have started from April itself in many parts of the state. The board in its petition has proposed a power cut of 1.15 hours in main cities, 1.50 hours at district headquarters, 2 hours in mixed feeders in towns and 3 hours in villages in April. Similarly, in May, the board has proposed a power cut of 1 hour in main cities, 1.30 hours at district headquarters, 2 hours in towns and 2.15 hours in villages.

In June, power cuts are likely to increase to 2 hours in main cities and district towns, 3 hours in other towns and 3.45 hours in villages. In July and August, the board has proposed a cut of 1.15 hours in main cities, 2 hours at the district level and other towns and 3 hours in villages. In September, it will be 1.30 hours in main cities, 2.30 hours in district towns, 3 hours in small towns and 4 hours in villages.

Besides this, the board has also proposed weekly off for the industry. In July and August, it proposes to increase the weekly offs to two, which if implemented will hamper industrial production in the state and also affect the PSEB as the industry is its best pay master.

According to the PSEB, the gap between demand and supply will vary from 100 lakh units per day to 175 lakh units for the next six months. It has informed the PSERC that this gap will persist despite addition of 250 MW with the start of the third unit of the Lehra Mohabbat phase-II project. It has also informed the board that in April there is requirement for 947 lakh units, which will increase to 1,500 lakh units in June and likely to touch 1,700 LU in July and August.

The present generation, besides benefits from tie-ups, including power banking, has been taken into consideration while submitting the application to the PSERC.

According to sources, power cuts are inevitable because the board has not been aggressive in buying electricity this year compared to last year when it bought power worth Rs 5,000 crore. This is because of objections that it had bought power at a very expensive rate last year.

With the fourth unit of Lehra Mohabbat stage-II not expected to become operational till November, contrary to the board’s claims of an early start, a harsh summer awaits people of Punjab this year.



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