Punjab faces power outages, cut in industrial units for 48 hours


Amid farmers’ agitation over electricity outages during the current paddy season and its high demand owing to monsoon lying dormant, electricity-deficit state-owned Punjab State Power Corporation Ltd (PSPCL) on Thursday announced a two-day off for industrial consumers, barring essential service providers, with immediate effect.

It urged government and public sector offices to use electricity judiciously and switch off ACs till July 3.

“Due to prolonged dry spells, paddy transplantation and power shortage owing to the failure of one unit of the Talwandi Sabo thermal plant, the PSPCL is facing problem in meeting the power demand of more than 14,500 plus MW,” said the power utility.

For almost a fortnight, the entire state, including urban areas, has been facing massive power outages.

The demand reached 14,142 MW on Wednesday, against the supply of 12,842 MW, leaving a gap of 1,300 MW, said an official.

Farmers are among those who the hit hard as they are not getting the promised eight-hour supply for paddy transplantation.

“We are getting three to four hours of supply against the promise of eight hours. So we are forced to use generators to run the tubewells,” said Bharti Kisan Union-Ekta-Ugrahan leader Nishant Singh.

Chief Minister Amarinder Singh last week issued directions to ensure eight-hour uninterrupted power supply and to purchase deficient power from outside the state at any cost to prevent any supply disruption in the ongoing sowing season.

He directed the Finance Department to release Rs 500 crore to the PSPCL to tide over the financial crunch faced amid the pandemic.

Punjab has its own generation of 5,500 MW from various sources, including solar, and purchases around 7,300 MW from the northern grid.

PSPCL Chairman-cum-Managing Director A. Venu Prasad said the demand shot up due to the paddy transplantation and the peak summer. “We have requested the Bhakra Beas Management Board to increase generation,” he said.

Industrial units located in Ludhiana, Mandi Gobindgarh, Khanna, Jalandhar, and Phagwara have been worst hit, owing to compulsorily power shutdown till 2 p.m. on Saturday.