Tuesday, February 23, 2010

HOT AND HELPLESS

HOT AND HELPLESS
While residents are fretting over unscheduled, long power cuts, industries say they can’t bank on back-up for long
Jayashree Nandi & A T Subrahmanya | TNN


For industries and commercial establishments in Bangalore, power shortage is not just about a few dark hours but the huge amount of money spent on diesel and generator sets. If the situation worsens, some industries in Peenya may have to stop working as gensets cannot handle the huge load.
For two hours of power cut, 25-30 litres of diesel are used, not to mention the pollution it causes. Commercial establishments on Brigade Road, Commercial Street and M G Road also deal with power cuts during peak shopping days.
“Recently, there was no power for around three days. I have a back-up generator and other establishments have small portable ones, but the noise and fumes make it uncomfortable. We’re spending a lot of money on gensets. We have made a request to the government to exclude commercial establishments at least on peak shopping days like weekends,” said Brigade Shops and Establishments Association secretary Suhail Yusuf.
The scene is no different on Commercial Street. “In the past 10 days, there have been power cuts of 3-5 hours every day. It’s so hot and shoppers find it extremely uncomfortable. After sunset, it’s pitch dark in the bylanes. That becomes a safety issue too. Every shop spends at least Rs 500 on petrol and diesel,” said vice-president of Commercial Street Traders’ Association Ajay Motwani.
PEENYA COMES TO A STANDSTILL
Peenya, Bangalore’s industrial hub with about 4,500 industries, has come to a standstill. “The situation is very bad. If there are 3-4 hour power cuts or even intermittent power supply, continuous processing units like plastics, powder coating, planting and heat treatment will come to a standstill and material is wasted. It will have to be reheated again for 3-4 hours. In the regular product industries also, the condition is pathetic. There is loss of labour wages. Some functions cannot be supported by generators as the load is huge,” said N V Subrayappa, manager, Peenya Industries Association.
The Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FKCCI) is keen on staggering weekly offs for the industries. “God save us. If this is the condition in the beginning of summer, one can very well imagine the situation in mid-summer. The hydel power stations will be totally powerless as reservoirs are drying up and thermal power stations are in a shambles. Generators are out of order because of the huge load,” FKCCI president J Crasta told TOI.
Urging the government to use smart meters, he added: “They can’t even go for staggered holidays because the feeders are not separate. They should adapt staggered power supply for the entire state.”
BOOM IN GENSET BUSINESS
There is a sharp spike in demand for diesel generator sets. Many establishments are already enjoying a 35% to 40% increase in demand. The price of gensets ranges from Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 70 lakh.
“Enquiries have gone up by at least 40% in the past 30-40 days. Many are looking for smaller sets which cost around Rs 1.75 lakh. It’s natural because power cuts have been really terrible over the past few days,” said a sales representative of RP Industries. Diesel costs around Rs 39 per litre.
The sales force of Kirloskar Electric Company said they are expecting a hike in sales by 20%. “Every month, we sell 400 to 500 sets. This month there have been many enquiries and we expect a hike in sales next month,” a representative said. Shopkeepers said there have been many queries because people want to buy the DG set before the budget.
We will manage: Jairaj
The unscheduled power cuts have left the government frantically looking out for options and buying power at exorbitant amounts. But K Jairaj, principal secretary (energy) is confident they will manage as effectively as last year. He shared his plans to deal with the current crisis with TOI:
Why unscheduled power cuts suddenly?
That’s because demand shot up to around 138 MU with summer setting in. There was a sharp drop in supply both in the state and the Centre of around 500 MW. This huge disparity in demand and supply is the problem.
What is the solution?
We have started buying power, 300 MW from Jindal and Reliance. We are processing power barter from NTPC to bridge this gap. The chief minister has also decided to buy 400 MW. We are spending Rs 500 crore.
On its part, the Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Ltd is trying to popularize off-grid renewable energy options. However, we need grid-connected power. We are confident things will be in control and we’ll effectively manage like last year. By Marchend things will be in shape. TNN

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