Mumbai, (The Hindu): The rise in demand for electricity owing to increasing heat and humidity levels will lead to imposition of load-shedding in certain parts of the State, Power Minister Chandrashekhar Bavankule has said. The power cuts are likely to coincide with the upcoming festive season.
Mr. Bavankule said that the average power requirement this season is 16,000 MW, but due to the rise in demand, the current requirement is 20,000 MW. Though the Minister did not specify which parts of the State will face load-shedding, reports say parts of Marathwada and North Maharashtra such as Aurangabad, Beed, and Osmanabad are likely to be affected.
Cracking the whip
The Minister said that there was no power shortage, but the department has also decided to reduce power supply in areas where recovery of electricity bills from consumers is very low. He said, “On power supply worth Rs 100, the return is only Rs 27. This has led to pending dues of around Rs 30,000 crore. We cannot give more time to defaulters. We have to cut power supply in some areas as a measure to force consumers to pay their bills.”
Mr. Bavankule said power trading takes place on a daily basis and prices are rising because of the increased demand. He said, “We have to purchase power at rates like Rs 7.50 and RS 8 per unit. If we continue to buy power at such rates, we need to have good recovery as well. Otherwise, it will put financial stress [on power utilities].”
A source in the Power Department said that deficient rainfall in the State has also affected power generation from dams. Most of the major dams are filled below their capacity and a sizeable amount of water has to be reserved for drinking and irrigation purposes.
Thermal power stations in the State also have low coal reserves. Mr. Bavankule said, “Ideally, every thermal power generation unit should have coal stock for 20 days, but we are now having stock for only three to four days.”
Congress slams move
The Congress criticised the government’s load-shedding plan and said the move will affect farmers who are already staring at water scarcity. Ashok Chavan, Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee president said the move has come at a time when parts of the State are reeling under water shortage due to deficient rainfall.
“If farmers are not provided electricity, from where will they get water?” Mr. Chavan told reporters at Sinnar, en route to Sangamner in Nashik district during last leg of the party’s Jan Sangharsh Yatra. He said, “There are many places in rural areas where power transformers don’t even have oil [necessary for their functioning].”
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