Friday, March 30, 2007

Power crisis deepens in Karnataka

Power crisis deepens in Karnataka
Business Standard

The power situation in Karnataka has turned from bad to worse with the state failing to meet the growing demand for energy resulting in load-shedding.

Even Bangalore has not been spared with unscheduled power cuts for 3-4 hours becoming the order of the day.

While state authorities cite inadequate supply as the reason for power cuts, experts blame the government for poor management of the energy resources.

The power consumption has reached 130 million units per day as against an availability of 117 million units per day. The state is busy shopping for power from states producing surplus electricity but in vain.

“This scenario was foreseen and the state should have managed its resources properly. Resorting to load-shedding will not solve the problem. The state has to set its priorities right,” said M G Prabhakar, chairman, energy committee, Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FKCCI).

The annual supply of power in Karnataka is 26,000 million units. Of this, industrial sector accounts for 7,318 million units while the agriculture sector (irrigation pumpsets) consumes close to 10,000 million units per year.

Under the previous Congress regime (when S M Krishna was the chief minister), the power supply to irrigation pumpsets was limited to 8,000 million units with loadshedding in the rural areas. It balanced the supply and demand.

However, the present government, pursuing the populist measure, announced additional power supply to the farmers, surpassing the limit of 8,000 million units. The power subsidy bill has reached Rs 1,800 crore per year.

“All that the state has to do is efficiently manage the electricity available. Consumers in urban areas have to impose certain restrictions. At the same time, the agriculture sector cannot be neglected. Some of the irrigation pumpsets are inefficient. These have to be set right,” Prabhakar said.

Last year, the state had sufficient monsoon rains and most of the reservoirs with hydel projects were full.

“Now, the state is claiming that the storage of water in reservoirs is poor. It shows that the state has not managed the resources properly,” he pointed out.


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