Summer intensifies, so does lockdown power challenges

Summer intensifies, so does lockdown power challenges in Bengaluru

Representative image.

Spring gave way to summer in Bengaluru, and so here comes a repeat of last year’s woes but under the lockdown shadow. Huge uncertainty over the spread of coronavirus has already made many anxious. Water shortage, particularly on the city’s outskirts, and recurring power outages have only worsened their misery.

Lack of adequate water and power has always been sources of big crises in the densely populated city. DH interacts with a cross-section of Bengalureans to understand their challenges, and the means they have adopted to tide over the crises.

A resident of Viveknagar and a research scholar at Christ University, Jincy A George has this to say: “Viveknagar is a highly populated residential area, a lot of families live here. For us, electricity shortage is a big issue especially during this summer, with small children at home.”

The lockdown has raised the demand for power. Everyone relies on phones, television, laptop and WiFi to kill their time during this lockdown season. So the power cut for long durations adds to the burden.

“The power cut here is not frequent, but when it occurs it is for long duration thereby creating a disturbing ambience,” says George. “Water as such is supplied to us every alternate day in the evening. As of now, there is no shortage despite it being summer. We all have minimised the usage to prevent any shortage in the future.”

As the summer intensifies, the heat has turned unbearable. For many used to the city’s generally cool climate, the onset of the hot season has meant a spike in discomfort levels. The lockdown has not helped either, especially for those working from home, often without any AC.

Bibin T, a senior software engineer has been working from home. He finds the frequent power cuts a real strain, increasing the struggle. Heat is a huge issue, and working without a fan is near impossible for him. City life, he says, depends a lot on reliable power supply, from kitchen appliances such as the refrigerator to the grinder to the most WFH essential, the WiFi connection.

Water shortage in pockets has left many under the lockdown face problems with washing, cooking and cleaning. Often, there are no alternatives if the BBMP supplies fail, and private tankers are hard to come by. Many households in the city’s outlying areas have had to fork out hefty amounts to get tanker supplies.

Mithin Nathan, a project engineer residing in BTM layout has a different take on the power issues. “I can hear transformer explosions every alternate day, yet the government has been successful in providing uninterrupted power supply.”

However, this is not the case in many other parts of the city, where power supply has been unreliable. Nathan suggests a way out: “As it is summer, it would be a good time now to appreciate solar power.” Solar has been adopted for heating water to a certain extent in the city, but still remains in its infancy for lighting and other applications.

For businessman Libin Thomas, a resident of Shantinagar, power shutdowns are real but do not last more than 15 minutes. “Being quarantined is not easy, but it would have been a whole lot worse if we were to face difficulties such as acute water scarcity and frequent power cuts,” he says.

However, this is a world away from areas such as Whitefield, where power disruptions could extend to three to four hours. Sastry Yadavahalli, a resident elaborates, “We have to rely on our Diesel Generator sets for 3-4 hours every day, except on Saturdays and Sundays. The capacity of these DG sets is overstretched since everyone in the apartment is at home under lockdown.”

The one to two minute switch from normal power supply to the generators often disrupt the flow for people working from home. “I intend to buy an inverter to ensure uninterrupted supply, once the lockdown gets over,” says Yadavalli.