Dark year for State

Govt announces regulated load-shedding from Saturday
Last Updated 30 July 2009, 19:53 IST

The situation is going to be grim across rural Karnataka. People in the rural areas will get electricity just for 10 hours, of which the three phase supply will be available for only five hours. It will be 14 hours of darkness in rural parts over the next 12 months. That is only if the authorities do not take recourse to unscheduled load-shedding as they have often has done in the past. 

Energy Minister K S Eshwarappa on Thursday announced that Bangalore would have to bear with two hours of regulated load-shedding –– an hour in the morning (anytime between 6 am and 10 am) and another hour in the evening (anytime between 6 and 10 pm).

Eshwarappa said there would be 14 hours of load-shedding for rural parts. The minister, however, said Bescom officials had assured him that they would try their best to ensure uninterrupted supply in Bangalore. But Bescom’s July 30 notification on load-shedding timings had included the capital city. The power utility has been taking recourse to unscheduled power cuts in the last 15 days. Eshwarappa’s announcement has made Bescom’s measures official.

The government’s decision to resort to regulated load-shedding has come despite the improved hydel power generation in the past couple of weeks in view of the copious rains. Almost all hydel reservoirs are full. Moreover, farmers in the most parts of the State are not using irrigation pumps, considerably reducing the burden on the grid.
Eshwarappa attributed the grim situation to short supplies to the state from the Central grid. “The power is deficit due to shortage in supply from the central grid. Against the State’s share of 1,543 mega watt, we are getting only around 800 mw every month. This forced us to resort to load-shedding,” he claimed.

According to the minister, the State is expected to generate 117 million units power in August against a demand of 120 mu. In September, power generation will be 119 mu and demand 125 mu. But Eshwarappa skirted the question why such a major load-shedding programme was being resorted to even though the demand and supply gap is marginal.

The minister defended his decision, saying the State was generating hydel power to almost full capacity (42 mu) and sufficient water was available to generate power for the next one year. Similarly, power generation from thermal and other sources is also to almost full capacity.

Eshwarappa also said the government sought to manage with available hydel sources and avoid purchasing power at higher cost. “We want to manage with the available water for the next one year. For this, we need to balance supply and demand by resorting to load-shedding,” he explained.

K Jairaj , Energy Department Principal Secretary, said going by the unrestricted demand for power, which is 145 mu, the gap between demand and supply was about 20 per cent. He said the water levels at Sharavathi and other hydel dams are not satisfactory. Sharavathi is still 14 ft below its capacity mark of 1805 ft. “But we do not want to start purchasing power now. For the moment, we have decided to manage with the available power. We hope that the situation will improve by November,” he explained.

... but State trips on Central fund

Ajith Athrady, New Delhi

Power sector reforms in Karnataka are likely to suffer a setback with the Centre threatening to withdraw the nearly Rs 400 crore grant advanced to the State Government for IT-related programmes to reduce technical and commercial losses in electricity generation and supply.

Under the Restructured Accelerated Power Development and Reforms Programme (R-APDRP), a totally centrally sponsored, IT-driven scheme, the Union Power Ministry sanctioned Rs 384.09 crore to Karnataka in February 2009. While sanctioning the fund, the Centre asked the State Government to appoint an IT Implementing Agency (ITIA) in three months.

But, five months after sanctioning the fund, the project has yet to take off. Now, the Power Ministry, in a recent missive, has warned to take back the money “with interest”unless implementation was not accelerated by September. The Centre also cautioned the State Government that it will not give extend the deadline.
Karnataka, ironically, was the first state to receive a grant under R-APDRP in which 94 towns were selected for implementation of IT-related scheme in the power sector. The objective was to adopt IT to reduce losses, collection of accurate baseline data, IT applications for energy accounting/auditing and IT-based consumer service centres. 

DH News Service

(Published 30 July 2009, 19:53 IST)

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