Andhra Power Crisis: Why Saina's help won't be enough
Pushed to the wall with an acute power crisis in Andhra Pradesh, energy officials have turned to Saina, in the hope that her appeals to people to use power judiciously will pack a punch.
Trust Saina Nehwal to know a thing or two about conserving energy. The badminton star, known for her powerful smashes on the badminton court and also her ability to last the distance in tough match situations, will now tell you ways to conserve power. Except that this is power of the electrical kind.
Pushed to the wall with an acute power crisis in Andhra Pradesh, energy officials have turned to Saina, in the hope that her appeals to people to use power judiciously will pack a punch. So the next time you find Saina speaking on a television set near you, you are likely to be told what you can do to ensure there is some light at the end of the tunnel. That if each one did his or her bit, it could result in a saving of 15000 million units of energy, that translates to 7500 crore rupees.
The fact that this is a pre-election year means the political leadership is more sensitive to the power woes of the people. Chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy wants AP Transco to ensure that not a single acre of the rabi crop should wither for want of power supply and that any shortfall in seven hours of power supply should be compensated the next day. Not only that, the government also wants to ensure adequate power supply so that students preparing for exams are not aggrieved.
Now only if Kiran Kumar Reddy's land was utopia. Staring at the energy officials in the face is the acute deficit position. Though the state's installed capacity is 16500 MW, the utilities have not been able to use even 10000 MW of capacity due to severe scarcity of fuel.
The situation is worse than a hand-to-mouth existence in the next three months. For instance, against a requirement of 10140 million units (MU) in March 2013, only 7233 MU are available. Similarly, there is a deficit of 2385 MU in April and 1991 MU in May. Which is why unless people in the cities switch off their air conditioners and decide to face the heat or indulge in candlelight dinners, it would be next to impossible for power officials to meet the chief minister's demand.
Already industries are shut thrice a week because power is supplied only on four days of the week. The IT sector has been exempt from the power cut because the government realises Hyderabad's brand equity as an IT powerhouse suffered last year when four hours of power cuts meant they had to depend on expensive and polluting diesel generators or risk not being able to service international clients.
The fact of the matter is that Andhra Pradesh produces very little power. Against an installed hydel capacity of 3880 MW, only 400 to 500 MW is produced because there is little water in the reservoir. Similarly, gas based power stations which account for 2770 MW of power generating capacity are producing just 600 MW because of fall in gas production in Krishna-Godavari basin. Thermal power stations are unable to contribute to the kitty despite the best efforts put in by Singareni Colleries.
The 1000 MW purchased by Andhra Pradesh from private players at price ranging between six and ten rupees per unit brought some cheer but will hardly suffice. While big companies have been able to purchase power, the ones to suffer are the small-scale units who are forced to forego orders because they cannot complete them on time.
Free power promised to farmers for seven hours a day is another millstone around the government's neck. Therefore the emphasis on asking the consumer to switch off in addition to the compulsory switching off the authorities would impose.
Usually, it is only in peak summer that the power situation becomes grim. However, this year even in the months of November and December, many district towns suffered regular periods of unofficial power cuts. And summer will mean the season of long hours of no power will be back. Politically, this could prove to be the nemesis for the Congress. Its MPs admit the most common complaint they hear in the districts does not relate to Telangana or inflation but power cuts.
Transco officials concede the summer of 2013 will be much worse than previous years and the citizens need to brace themselves for long spells of living in an Andhera Pradesh.
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