A state that once enjoyed a surplus of power, Punjab is now facing the most acute shortage in all of North India, at a time of maximum demand.
According to the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL), Punjab had reached the maximum demand of 14,245 MW Wednesday afternoon, but available power from all sources was 12,695 MW — a shortfall of 1,550 MW.
On Wednesday, both the urban and rural consumer in Punjab were reeling under power cuts. Though farmers get agricultural power free of cost, on Wednesday, the state faced heavy power cuts in urban and suburban areas, which left consumers angry as they are paying more than Rs 10 per unit for their power bills. On Thursday, this shortfall had reduced a bit, but the state was still in the worst position in terms of power shortage as compared to other north Indian states.
Haryana, which had maximum demand of 11,209 MW, had zero shortage. Same was the case with Rajasthan, where maximum demand had reached 12,672 MW on Wednesday. Delhi too had zero shortage at 6,522 MW maximum demand while UP’s maximum demand was as high as 23,424 MW, despite which it had zero shortage. Uttarakhand and Himachal also had zero shortage during maximum demand, while J&K and Ladkah faced shortage of 250 MW.
Chandigarh too had zero shortage during the maximum demand hours and its maximum demand was 370 MW.
Punjab is largely dependent on private thermal plants as its own thermal in Bathinda has been closed down and Ropar thermal plant is not fully operational. On Wednesday, its 210 MW unit was out of power, which was restored on Thursday. The Talwandi Sabo thermal plant which is a private facility, has capacity of generating 1,980 MW, but only 990 MW were available on Wednesday due to outage. On Thursday, this outage was reduced to 660 MW as one 330 MW unit was restored. Sources said Talwandi Sabo’s 660 MW outage has not been repaired since March-end.
On Wednesday, Punjab’s urban areas faced over 7 hours of unscheduled power cuts. However, on Thursday, the situation improved as one unit each of Talwandi Sabo and Ropar were restored.
Interestingly, PSPCL is now desperately waiting for the monsoon to arrive so that hydel power can help ease the burden. The PSEB Engineers’ Association even stated that PSPCL is in a mess as “they ignored technical advice”.
In addition to this, the department has no full-time minister. This department was given to Navjot Singh Sidhu who never took charge, and later, Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh kept the portfolio. Moreover, IAS officer A Venuprasad who is posted as Additional Chief Secretary-Cum-Financial Commissioner, Taxation has an additional charge as Chairman cum Managing Director PSPCL. Hence, questions have been raised as to when a full-time CMD and minister will be provided to this crucial department, said engineers who are facing the wrath of consumers every other day.