Punjab is reeling under a severe power crisis in peak summer season, with unscheduled and long outages leading to protests by consumers in various parts of the state.
The state-owned Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) admitted it was facing a problem in meeting the demand of more than 14,500 Plus MW as temperatures continue to soar in the state.
A PSPLC spokesman said the shortage was due to prolonged dry spells (delayed monsoon), paddy transplantation and failure of one unit of the Talwandi Sabo thermal power plant in Bathinda district.
The company has appealed to government officials at different departments, boards and corporations to use electricity judiciously at work by switching off the lights, devices and appliances when not in use and turning off high-power consuming appliances such as air conditioners for up to three days.
Wherever possible, the employees are advised to avoid using multiple AC units within offices for decreasing the power load on the system besides reducing their electricity bills, PSPLC said in its statement.
The state government has come under fierce criticism from the opposition claiming the shortage has arisen despite the government paying Rs 20,000 crore fixed charges to three private thermal plants and an additional Rs 500 crore being allocated to buy additional power.
SAD chief Sukhbir Badal tweeted, “Power cuts by Capt. Amarinder Singh government are deliberate excuse for denying free power to farmers at peak of paddy plantation. Era of long power cuts is back though even rivals forced to admit we left Punjab power surplus. Aam Aadmi Party colluding with Capt. SAD won’t remain mute witness.”
Power cuts by @capt_amarinder govt are deliberate excuse for denying free power to farmers at peak of paddy plantation. Era of long #PowerCuts is back though even rivals forced to admit we left Pb power surplus. @AamAadmiParty colluding with Capt. SAD won't remain mute witness. pic.twitter.com/I9Qw6xhuo6— Sukhbir Singh Badal (@officeofssbadal) July 1, 2021
Not only villages and agriculture feeders, even urban areas have been facing outages. While farmers in several parts of Malwa have been holding protests against the non-availability of power to irrigate fields, cities such as Patiala, Ludhiana, Amritsar, Bathinda, Mohali and Jalandhar have been facing several unscheduled cuts for last few days.
The maximum power demand in the state has touched 14,225 MW this year, which is 1,425 MW short of the 12,800 MW that the PSPCL has been able to provide. The average shortfall during evening peak hours is 725 MW.
While the state has its own generation of about 5,500 MW from various sources, including solar, it can import a maximum of 7,300 MW from the northern grid.
Meanwhile, industries in many parts of Punjab have been shut down for two days, following a huge surge in demand for power in the agriculture sector.
Officials said that industrial units located in Ludhiana, Mandi Gobindgarh, Khanna, Amloh, Sirhind, Jalandhar, Phagwara and Hoshiarpur have been directed to shut down their operations for 48 hours, from 2 pm today. The industries in these areas account for 90 per cent of the total industrial units in Punjab.