Notice to UP for overdrawing power from northern grid

Written by Deepa Jainani | Lucknow | Updated: Jul 1 2009, 04:31am hrs
The Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation (UPPCL) has been issued a notice by the Central Electricity Regulatory Authority (CERC) for putting the safety of the entire northern grid in peril by overdrawing more power than its prescribed quota. Uttar Pradesh has to file its reply by June 30 and the matter will come up for hearing on July 16. If the reply is not satisfactory, UP may also have to face a penalty. UP is yet to clear its old penalty, with interest on the penalty itself a whopping 165 crore.

Stung by the criticism, UPPCL has finally taken some tough measures like restricting use of air conditioners in homes, offices and commercial establishments, besides limiting use of decorative lights in public places. It has also imposed four-six hour cuts on industrial units and ordered that all business establishments shut shop after 7.30 pm, an official of the power corporation said. UPPCL has also been forced to impose power cuts in the Taj trapezium zone (TTZ), which is exempted from power cuts on Supreme Court orders.

While the demand for power has reached a record 9,000 mw in the state, only 6,500 mw is being made available. Even after overdrawing approximately 1,000 mw from the grid, the state is still facing a shortage of almost 1,500 mw.

"No new power plant has been set up in the state in the past 15 years, which has also shattered hopes of drawing private investment," said a source in the power department. The acute power crisis has led to widespread demonstration and agitations in many parts of the state. On Saturday, agitators in Gonda blocked the national highway and torched a police post.

The issue of UP drawing more power than its quota came up for debate at a meeting of the Northern Region Power Committee, held in Lucknow over the weekend. The state was pulled up for not only failing to pay the unscheduled interchange (UI) charges applicable on it for taking excess power from the grid, but also for defaulting on payment of interest.

UP has also been severely criticised by member states of the grid for being the biggest violator of the grid code and taking more than its share. Castigating Uttar Pradesh for using the grid as a generator, a member of the committee said while other states have already taken strict measures to meet the power demand, UP was indulging in regular and continuous overdraw at the expense of others. "Why should we suffer for the incompetence of Uttar Pradesh" representatives of the other states reportedly asked UPPCL chairman Navneet Sehgal.