When the City is grappling with 12-hour power cuts, the Power Minister’s pre-summer claim often comes to mind, ‘This will be a power-cut free summer for the City’. By the end of May he admitted that the State is facing a shortage of 1,700 MW of power. As a side-effect of the repeated power-cuts, the water supply of the City has also gone for a toss, with colonies reporting sporadic water supply – with gaps of two to three days sometimes.
And the reason for the abysmal power cuts is the constant faults at the State’s five power plants – at Jhajjar, Khedar, Panipat, Yamuna Nagar, and Faridabad. Due to repeated technical failures, and poor coal planning, these plants have never performed at their optimal output. The City is always facing a shortfall of 30-40 per cent of its power demand, and so is the State. On an average day, the State power generation is around 46 to 50 million units of electricity (fluctuating around the 2000 MW mark), whereas the State needs 100-110 million units of electricity daily. For summers, the power needs spike to 150-165 million units. Thankfully, the power allocation from other states (the Northern Grid) saves the people from complete darkness.
Facing all this, the ire of the people is naturally directed at the City’s power distributor, Dakshin Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam (DHBVN). Every time there is a power cut (unscheduled or scheduled), there is a rush to dial the power company’s hotline, to know how long the black-out will last. But with the spate of power-cuts, even the people’s desire to know has been sapped by the heat. All that remains is the disillusionment that the discom has failed them again.
“We want the people to appreciate that DHBVN is a distributor, and not a power generator,” says a senior DHBVN official. “We gain nothing by hoarding it, and we gain everything by supplying power to the people.”
Within Haryana, Gurgaon probably has the maximum demand for power. According to officials, its share hovers around a quarter of the entire State’s need of electricity. “If anything, the people should be grateful,” says an official with a snort. “Do the people realise how many hours of load-shedding the rest of the state goes through? Hissar, Bhiwani, Rewari and all the other districts have double or more the load-shedding hours, just because we divert their share to Gurgaon. The Chief Minister is right in saying that Gurgaon is slowly taking the deserving share of the rest of Haryana. At least that is true for electricity,” he states.
“It is a fact that if the power generation was optimal, we would be having surplus power even during peak summer,” claims the power official. The five power generation units of the State are optimally capable of producing about 5,000 MW of electricity. But, it is an altogether different matter that the generation units are unable to produce even half of that power on their best day. Why put in thousands of crores into technology which does not even perform when needed? “Thermal plants work at an optimal temperature of some thousands of degrees. Even for an inspection or repair, they have to be taken down to normal temperature, which effectively means the plant has to be shut down completely. And to bring a thermal plant up to running temperature, it takes a minimum of one to two days,” the official elucidates. “These are massive operations, and power-generation units cannot be switched on and off at will.”
The 1,320 MW thermal power plant at Jharli (Jhajjar), has not been producing power, despite big claims of it being commissioned. And there are no promises from the officials that it will start anytime soon. The thermal power plant at Panipat is officially capable of producing 1,367 MW, but has not been sending out more than 1,000 MW on any day – because of a blown power-generation unit. The power plant at Yamuna Nagar, which has an installed capacity of two 300 MW units, is currently closed for repairs. The NTPC gas power station at Faridabad has an installed capacity of 432 MW, and sends out 15 per cent less power on a daily basis. The total power production capacity of Haryana is about 5,000 MW; but in reality it barely reaches 2,000 MW on a good day. The power supply is supplemented by the Northern Region Load Dispatch Centre (NRLDC), which allocates power to seven states in North India (Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, and Jammu and Kashmir), and Delhi. The power allocation of Haryana is around 2,000 MW; and it is because of NRLDC’s power allocation that Haryana (and DHBVN) manages to provide some basic level of power. The rest is of the time is load-shedding, black-outs and genset nights.
For example, in January this year, the State electricity demand shot up to 5,008 MW, leaving a whopping shortfall of 1,908 MW. If we reduce the State’s allocation from the NRLDC (of 2,000 MW), Haryana’s power generation could only cough up around 1,100 MW (from its estimated capacity of about 5,000 MW).
DHBVN had earlier come out with a load-shedding schedule, which would ‘reward’ areas having ‘lower power thefts’ and ‘timely payments’. This policy has been shelved. Is there any reason behind the discom’s sudden shift in policy? “That was the plan. But when the power shortage turned out to be of such a massive scale, it was not viable to apply this rule to certain parts of the City,” rues the official. Does this mean that when the power situation is better, in the monsoons and the winters, the people might see the rule in force again? The official refuses to comment.
Why is it that even with supposedly upgraded power infrastructure, there are also cases of power failure because of tripping? A power official in the City remarks, “It is because people do not declare their real power usage.” He says that the power infrastructure in the City is well-equipped for handling the summer loads, but the problem lies in people who draw excess power compared to what they pay. If someone has been allocated a 2-3KW power connection, the situation is fine if he draws the power he is paying for. But when people install two to three air-conditioners, and not raise the power slab to 5-8KW (because of raised charges), the load on the neighbourhood transformer becomes too much for it to handle. That is why the transformers trip; and it takes hours to repair them – or longer, if it needs replacement.
The power scenario of Haryana, and of Gurgaon in particular, seems particularly bleak when one considers all the facts. The people do not get power – areas in Gurgaon are facing 10 to 12 hours of load-shedding even today. On the other hand, DHBVN officials say their hands are tied. Apart from the local power infrastructure which they are working on, they depend on power generating plants. The root of the problem is that the multi-crore power plants spend more time in repairs, than in working. If not for the Northern Grid, we would still be living in dark Haryana.
Private Power Supply?
There is a roaring business stemming from DHBVN’s inability to provide power. Enterprising individuals buy a captive power plant, and set up alternate power lines to residences. Needless to say, each of these alternate power supply connections costs an arm and a leg. The rate per unit of electricity is also Rs. 10 at least. Is this sanctioned under the laws of DHBVN?
“Yes, there are by-laws under which individuals can provide emergency power supply. But they have to take a licence for doing so. And the rate which they can charge is set down by us, and strictly regulated. There have been raids done by the DHBVN staff on unscrupulous power vendors, and their operations have been shut down,” a senior official says. A case of ‘I can’t do it, but won’t let you also’?
Jhajjar Power Plant (JPP), Village Khanpur, Jhajjar
Power Capacity: 660 MW x 2
EPC Contractor: CLP Power India Private Limited
Rajiv Gandhi Thermal Power Project (RGTPP), Khedar, Hisar
Power Capacity: 600 MW x 2 units
EPC Contractor: Reliance Energy
Total Estimated Cost of Set-up: Rs 4,512 crore
Status: One unit operational
WYC Hydel Yamunanagar
Power Capacity: 62 MW
EPC Contractor: Fuji Electric Co. (funded by OECF, Japan)
Total Estimated Cost of Set-up: Rs 143 crore
Panipat Thermal Power Station
Power Capacity: 1,367 MW
EPC Contractor: BHEL
Status: Operational, but some units are malfunctioning.
Deenbandhu Chhotu Ram Thermal Power Plant Project (DCRTPP), Yamunanagar
Power Capacity: 300 MW x 2 units
EPC Contractor: Reliance Energy
Total Estimated Cost of Set-up: Rs 2,400 crore
Faridabad Gas-powered Station
Power Capacity: 432 MW
Status: Operational; sending 361 MW (Peak)
Pune Model, Anyone?
A DHBVN top boss commented, “Some years ago, we had come up with a power sharing plan, which would have benefited the city of Gurgaon. Like Pune, we wanted the residences and apartment colonies which had diesel gensets, to generate power for us. When not using them in load-shedding hours, these machines could give us power, which would be paid for by us. This would have ensured proper power supply for most of the areas. But the industrial houses and RWAs refused, not looking at the big picture.”
Indira Gandhi Super Thermal Power Project (IGSTPP), Jharli (Jhajjar)
Power Capacity: 500 MW x 3 units
EPC Contractor: Aravali Power Company Pvt. Ltd
Total Estimated Cost of Set-up: Rs 7,892 crores
Coal Requirements: Coal linkage of 6.94 Million Tonnes Per Annum allocated from Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd. by Ministry of Coal, Govt. of India.
660 MW capacity additional Thermal Unit at Yamuna Nagar, as an extension of 2x300 MW DCRTPP, Yamuna Nagar.
2800 MW (4x700 MW) nuclear power plant, in District Fatehabad near Village Gorakhpur– Site stands identified by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India. Government of India has approved the setting up of this Nuclear Power Project in Haryana during October, 2009.
Setting up of 6.5 MW Grid Interactive Solar Power Project on its own land, adjacent to Power House-D at WYC Hydel Electric Project at Yamunanagar, as a pilot project.
Coal block at Mara-to-Mahan in MP, with estimated coal reserves of 956 Million Tonnes, allocated jointly to HPGCL and Delhi Government. Required steps being taken for development of coal block.
What Of New Sectors?
If this is the power situation in the City today, what will happen when the new sectors come into being? Will the discom be able to provide power to the added population, without cutting the supply of the existing customer base? “The power infrastructure is already in place, and with the (Rs. 100 crore World Bank) grant, the existing infrastructure is being upgraded, to ensure seamless, and trip-free power supply,” officials claim.
Famous last words, as usual?