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Union power ministry on tenterhooks

NEW DELHI/Bangalore: oct 8, 2013 DHNS 1:59 IST
A view of one of the major junctions during a power outage at Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh state, Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013. Widespread power outages paralyzed life across the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh on Tuesday as electricity workers closed down power plants to protest a decision to divide the state in two.The state has been rocked by violent protests after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Congress party government announced last week its decision to go ahead with a plan to carve out a new state of Telangana from 10 districts of Andhra Pradesh.(AP Photo)
The ongoing power crisis in Andhra Pradesh, a fallout of the anti-Telangana protests which have crippled the state for the last two days, is keeping the Union Power Ministry on tenterhooks.

Ministry officials are constantly monitoring the situation. If normalcy is not restored, it will worsen, leading to a possible blackout in the southern states, they said.

The ministry has set up a special team at the National Load Despatch Centre to monitor functioning of electricity grids in the state. “At present, there is no threat to the grids. We are keeping a close watch and have taken all necessary measures,” an official said.

The Southern Regional Load Despatch Centre (SRLDC) said at least four transmission lines tripped due to the ongoing agitations. The SRLDC’s status report at 6 am on Tuesday said four lines, including the 400-KV Cuddappa-Chittoor and the 400/200 KV ICT-2 lines, were “tripped by AP agitators.” All lines have, however, been restored. Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puduchery also come under the SRLDC. According to another official, supply of power from plants in Andhra Pradesh to other parts of south India has been affected.

National Thermal Power Corporation operates two power projects in the state, the 2,600-MW Ramagundam plant and 2,000-MW Simhadri plant. The Ramagundam project at present generates about 2,200 MW since one unit is under maintenance. The Simhadri plant generates about 1,400 MW as it is facing coal shortage, the official said.

According to sources, total demand is 11,000 MW as against a supply of 7,000 MW.
Officials in Karnataka said the agitation is unlikely to impact power situation in the state.
Banking on the state’s hydel power capacity and power generation from the southern grid — which has not yet reached critical phase — the energy department said there was no need to panic. According to Kumar Naik, Managing Director, Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation Limited, the situation is “very much under control in Karnataka.”

“Over the past few weeks, demand for power has reduced in Karnataka due to favourable weather conditions. A problem might occur only if large power plants in Andhra Pradesh stop production,” Naik said. KPTCL has, however, been carrying out continuous maintenance works In Bangalore. Bescom MD Pankaj Kumar Pandey said Bangalore had enough hydel power to tide over the crisis.

Meanwhile, the Centre on Tuesday dismissed suggestions of imposing President’s rule on a turbulent Andhra Pradesh. It instead hinted at invoking the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) to ensure restoration of essential services like power supply and transportation. Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and Congress General Secretary Digvijay Singh also launched a counterattack against the YSR Congress and the Telugu Desam Party (TDP). The two parties had given a written consent to the creation of a new state, but later changed their stand, they claimed.

Shinde said the Centre was gravely concerned about the situation in Andhra Pradesh. He promised to address concerns over education and employment opportunities in Hyderabad, sharing of water and government employees. Singh urged protesters to discontinue the agitation so that a “healthy dialogue process” could be initiated.

Meanwhile, indefinite fasts by YSR Congress chief Jagan Mohan Reddy and the TDP’s N Chandra Babu Naidu continued. “I don’t understand why they are on a fast now,” Shinde said, adding that the government respects sentiments of the people of Seemandhra. The home minister’s view was echoed by Singh, who released letters written by Naidu and Reddy.
Shinde answered in the negative when asked about the possibility of imposing President’s rule on Andhra Pradesh. “There is no plan. There was no such discussion in today’s Cabinet meeting,” he said.

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