Punjab continues to face severe power shortage
PUNJAB continues to reel under severe power crisis for the past one-and-a-half month because of the failure of winter rains and significant fall in generation of hydro power. With the demand for power outstripping the supply by 150-200 lakh units per day, all the sectors including rural, urban and particularly industrial have been adversely affected due to power shortage. The grimness of the power situation in the state could be gauged from the fact that the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) had been forced to impose power cuts ranging between 6-10 hours in rural and urban areas, resulting into a lot of inconvenience to power consumers. According to PSEB officials, the demand for power in the state during this winter has reached 950-1,000 lakh units per day but the PSEB could manage to supply just 800 lakh units per day from all of its resources. Besides dry weather conditions and low generation, the noncompletion of second phase of Lehra Mohabbat thermal plant of 500 mw has also compounded the power woes. “Had this project been completed in the stipulated time, the power situation could have been better,” pointed out an official of PSEB. They further pointed out that the increase in demand for power from agricultural sector also widened the gap between demand and supply. Hit hard by the power shortage, Punjab industry has vociferously chastised the state government for not supplying sufficient power to especially power intensive industry even in winter and opined that the power shortage was threatening industrial growth. “We are already suffering on account of rupee appreciation and spiraling steel prices and now the power shortage has turned out to be a last nail in our coffin,” said Charanjit Singh, a bicycle exporter. The power situation in agricultural sector is quite worse compared to other sectors where the power cuts have been extended to 8-10 hours per day by the PSEB. The situation got further complicated for farmers because of frost conditions prevailed in this region during 10-15 days back. “We were advised by experts to apply light irrigation in order to neutralize the impact of frost. But we could not do so because of long hours power cuts imposed by the board, which resulted into damaging the crop,” said a potato grower.