Power blackout: Can Centre take on errant states?

Power blackout: Can Centre take on errant states?
Power blackout: Can Centre take on errant states?


New Delhi: The terrible Tuesday that left over 600 million people powerless has led to a new round of squabbling between states over fixing responsibility for the mess.

At the centre of the problem is the apparent disregard by some states to rules governing the operation of power grids.

Uttar Pradesh overdrew 751 million units (mu) of electricity than what was allotted; Haryana overdrew 247 mu, Punjab 199 mu and Uttarakhand 37 mu. In percentage terms, Haryana was the biggest culprit as it overdrew 51% more than what was allotted to it.

The states argue that they are forced to draw more from the grid as they have to meet the extra demand for power that has arisen after weak monsoon. The sowing season is underway and farmers need power to pump water to the fields.

At one stage, the supply was less than 40,000 MW against a workday peak of 130,000 MW.

While, Uttar Pradesh officials have claimed the state had not overdrawn power at the time of grid collapse, Haryana claims that the state was not ‘warned’ in time it was overdrawing from the grid.

As with many other issues, political considerations have been preventing tough action on errant states. The regulators are in place but given the fact that most of them are political appointees, they generally lack the will and power to oppose political decisions.

Moreover, the agencies that monitors the power grids, the regional load centres (RLDCs) are toothless and have repeatedly failed to prevent or punish states from drawing more than their allocated shares.

Also, a high-level panel headed by former CAG VK Shunglu had estimated a gap of 60 paise per unit between the average cost and revenue.

After two consecutive days of power outage – dubbed as world’s biggest – Centre appears to have made up its mind to take on unruly states.

But does it have the political muscle to take on Congress-ruled states or the friendly government in UP remains to be seen.


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