Wednesday, April 22, 2009


From :

The Times Of India, Kolkata
22 April 2009

Power staff put on poll duty in midst of crisis


Kolkata/Durgapur : It was a freak technical snag that blacked out Kolkata on Sunday. On Tuesday morning, in the middle of a power crisis in the state, two units of the Mejia thermal power plant under Damodar Valley Corporation had to be shut down for five hours because 150 employees from the crucial generation stations were sent for election duty. Employees of emergency supplies, like power utilities, are generally exempted from poll duty — a fact chief electoral officer Debashis Sen confirmed to TOI — but for some reason, the district administration ignored this. Amal Sarkar, chief engineer of Mejia, DVC’s biggest power plant, said Bankura DM Sindar Majumdar had ordered the release of the employees for training as election ‘microobservers’. West Bengal Power Development Corporation managing director S Mahapatra said he had heard nothing like it during his career. As the 150 employees duly reported for poll duty, the second and third units of Mejia that each generate 210 MW were shut down at 8 am. Later, the DVC brass intervened and secured their exemption. With 420 MW out of the system, the crisis that had developed following a transformer blast at the national grid in Durgapur on Monday night deepened. Seven DPL units went out of commission at once. By Tuesday evening, two smaller ones were back on track but two others with combined generation capacity of 460 MW remained inoperative. A DPL spokesman said the seventh unit, DPL’s biggest at 300 MW, would take at least three days to restart. That’s really bad news when unrelenting weather has pushed demand in Kolkata — which endured a sweltering blackout on Sunday and is still facing intermittent power cuts — to a record 1,528 MW. Across the state, it peaked to 3,600 MW. A demand that the state power utilities are not capable of handling. Anger over the power cuts led to protests and road blockades in Kolkata.

Protests in city over power cuts

Kolkata/Durgapur : The shutdown of two units of the Mejia thermal power plant — thanks to the staff being roped in for poll duty — made its effect felt quickly. Kolkata, where demand had peaked to a record 1,528 MW on Tuesday, ran short of 188 MW in the evening. For the state, the shortfall was a whopping 450 MW. It led to intermittent power cuts in Kolkata and elsewhere. Unable to watch Kolkata Knight Riders play for the second time, angry citizens blocked roads at Dum Dum and other places in the city. The state power department may argue on whether it was a “load shedding” or a technical snag in the system, but it means little to citizens who cursed the government for power cuts. With Lok Sabha polls a week away, chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee gave a piece of his mind to power secretary Sunil Mitra who called on him to explain Sunday’s blackout in the city. The technical snag apart, state power utilities are suffering from a shortage of good quality coal. State power department officials are in touch with Coal India and have ordered for additional 2 lakh tonnes of coal from Indonesia. However, the amount is too meagre for the huge demand. “It will keep the Kolaghat thermal power plant running for not more than eight days,” a state power official said. But poll managers won’t listen to such excuse. They want power minister Mrinal Banerjee to act in time before public resentment goes out of control. Pushed to the wall, power officials are looking for options to import power during the evening peak hours, even at higher rates.

Opinion : To me, it's very simple. The election enables us to choose leaders who'll help run the country better. So it's ironic that we are actually choosing politics over the people. It's all about priorities and one would assume there would really be no choice involved in this occasion, at least, not when Kolkata is suffering one of the worst summers ever. It's shameful. Shame on us.

No comments:


Blog Widget by LinkWithin