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Power blackout: Blame it on UP, Haryana, Rajasthan

July 31, 2012 19:07 IST
More than half of India was powerless for a large part of Tuesday and this was because some states continued to overdraw power from the Northern Grid than authorised. Vicky Nanjappa reports

Day 1 of the blackout in north India affected 300 million people. On Tuesday, the situation worsened -- 19 states across north, east and northeast India came to a standstill because of the power crisis affecting 600 million people.    

Who is to blame? The culprits are states, which have overdrawn electricity, point out officials. And adding to the woes is the poor monsoon as a result of which the required amount of hydroelectric generation was lower. Also, the increase in temperatures led to more consumption of electricity.

According to the power ministry, the main states that overdrew power were Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. Sources say that the biggest offender was UP.  

The data available shows that Uttar Pradesh had drawn 3,762 million units of power while it was allocated 3,011 MU. Haryana drew around 2,064 MU against the 1,817 MU allocated to it while Rajasthan utilised 1,505 MU against 1,407 MU.  While these are the statistics for the month of May and June, the power consumption is July is expected to be more. Power ministry officials are preparing a report and are likely to initiate action against these states.

Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh has a large farmer population and the problem began with them overusing electricity for irrigation because of the poor monsoon. However, it appears that Uttar Pradesh went overboard. It is said that UP overdrew 1,200 mega watts of power.

UP usually depends on Gujarat and Chhattisgarh for additional power. However, this year it overdrew from the northern grid making it one of the major culprits for the fiasco, sources say.

A report of the National Load Dispatch Centre suggests that these states have overdrawn power from the northern grid, which is an offence. Since officials in the power department have let this occur half of India faced a blackout.

One must also take a look at the order of the Central Electricity Regulatory Authority. Two months ago, it had ordered notices on the states of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab and Haryana as it found them to be overdrawing power. It had also ordered a halt on overdrawing from the northern grid.

However, the order never came to be implemented. In the same order, the authority also pointed out that due to a poor monsoon coupled with this problem of overdrawing there was an urgent need to purchase more power. Despite this order being directed no action was taken and these states continued to overdraw power.

Officials have now been directed to conduct a thorough probe. Not only will they have to ensure that the order of the regulatory authority is acted upon, but the states found guilty of overdrawing power are also liable for a huge fine. However, this inquiry would not be just restricted to the states alone. There will be many in the power department in Delhi who will face action if they have turned a blind eye when states continued to overdraw power.

Meanwhile, officials point out that there is a genuine shortage of power in the country and they need to turn to other nations for help.

Vicky Nanjappa