frequent and arbitrary power cuts drive Bangaloreans mad, a clueless government and Bescom conveniently cite non-existent ‘maintenance’ work
NIRANJAN KAGGERE & DEEPTHI M R
Bangalore is facing an emergency. In the past 96 hours, the entire city has witnessed a power shutdown for 60 hours! While Bangalore North was plunged into darkness for 56 hours since last Thursday, when the power crisis worsened, Bangalore South was without power for nearly 65 hours. On Sunday alone, 193 localities in the central, southern and eastern parts of the city went without power for more than eight hours. On Monday morning too, citizens in several parts of the city either woke up to power cuts or had to alter their daily schedule as power supply was disrupted later in the morning. What has increased the frustration of ordinary Bangaloreans is that nobody knows when there will be power or when it will conk off. From school students to homemakers to corporate honchos, erratic power supply is taking a heavy toll on everybody’s patience.
However, the authorities have a different take on the issue. While Bescom officials cite ‘maintenance drive’, the state government and the power generating companies point to the elements. Power minister K S Eshwarappa, who has been maintaining that there is no scheduled load-shedding, admits that hydel resources in the state have been depleting because of lack of rains. The situation is likely to worsen in the future, he warned. But he did not
mention the measures being taken to handle the power crisis. The state, which consumes on an average more than 1,300 million units per year, is currently running short of more than 300 million units of power, according to sources in the power department.
CITIZEN ANGER MOUNTS
Though the magnitude of citizens’ anger across the city is yet to reach the level of Delhiites who have taken to the streets, frustration is mounting. IN LAST 96 HOURS
The Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (Bescom), which handles the power needs of the city, has been seeing telephone lines in its control room ringing incessantly.
“No authority informs us about power cuts. On Friday, when there was no power for more than two hours in the evening, we tried calling up engineers from Bescom. However, they keep passing the buck saying our area does not come under their jurisdiction. We don’t know what exactly is happening. If there is a shortage of power in the state, the authorities should notify the timing of power cuts,” rued Mahima B, a resident of J P Nagar III Phase.
The problem is acute in areas on the outskirts of the city. “As power is being cut according to the whims and fancies of Bescom officials, our daily life has become hell. We are not sure when to switch on the grinder in the kitchen or the iron-box, it makes tempers fly in the house,” said Rajnitha Shravankumar, a housewife and resident of Karthiknagar in Marathhalli.
The state faced the same situation before the recent Lok Sabha polls. Yet, it managed to ensure steady supply by sourcing power from private generators. Now with the ruling BJP government recording a thumping victory at the hustings, the government’s contention is that it has no option but to face the crisis. REALITY CHECK
WHY ARE THERE FREQUENT POWER CUTS?
Power minister and his officials contend that it is to enable maintenance work. “It is due to maintenance work undertaken by the Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation Limited. Further, there has been a shortage in generation of power itself at the major generation stations. All these factors have led to the power failures,” explained Tushar Girinath, Bescom Managing Director
HOW LONG WILL THE MAINTENANCE WORKS LAST?
“These are taken up in a phased manner and accomplished in less than 24 hours. As of now, around 60 per cent of the maintenance work has been completed and the remaining areas that are located on the outskirts of the city including K R Puram, HSR Layout, Sarjapur Road and areas off the ring road near Hennur Cross will also be taken up at the earliest and during such works it is common to cut power,” explained a senior engineer from KPTCL.
MORE DEMAND, LESS SUPPLY
Bangalore needs 32 million units of power everyday, but the availability of power is only 29 million units. The demand for power increases by 25 per cent every year in the city on account of an increase in the number of people seeking new connections. While demand is on the rise, the government has done little to increase supply, forcing people to suffer. The central parts of Bangalore itself face power cuts up to three hours everyday. To tide over the impending crisis, Bescom authorities are contemplating increasing power cuts in the rural areas and divert the same to the city.
LET’S PRAY: MINISTER
As a major portion of the state’s power requirements are met by hydel reservoirs, inadequate rainfall this monsoon has forced the state government to plead with the rain gods. “There is no water in the reservoirs and the skies have failed to open up. In such a situation, we can only pray for heavy rains,” said Eshwarappa. He simply refused to acknowledge the fact that Bangalore is witnessing frequent powercuts.
• Store enough candles
• As temperature is low in Bangalore during night, buy mosquito
coils or battery-operated swatters.
• Charge your mobile phone in
• Charge laptop at office before you
leave (Offices usually have generators or uninterrupted power supply systems)
• Check your overhead tanks in the
house (Switch on the water pump
whenever there is power)
• Grind masalas whenever there is
power and store them.
• Press your clothes when there is
power or know where the nearest
coal-based laundry is.
Is maintenance work a convenient excuse for frequent power cuts?
Maintenance works are routine events taken up by the department. “In a year, as many as three times we undertake maintenance works. Pre-monsoon, postmonsoon and winter are generally the times during which we undertake these works. The maintenance includes clearing of jumbled up and dangling cables, cleaning of transformers and pruning of trees spreading over the transmission cables,” explained a senior technical officer with Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation Limited