Darkness at Noon
Two decades after the announcement of power reforms in the country and in Andhra Pradesh, with a promise to resolve all issues related to electricity...
Two decades after the announcement of power reforms in the country and in Andhra Pradesh, with a promise to resolve all issues related to electricity supply, the state is only witnessing worsening of the situation year after year. As a result, A all sectors of the economy and life are badly affected. And the governments have no answers except praying for good monsoon next season. The crisis is the result of faulty policies adopted in matters of coal, natural gas and private power plants, blatantly favouring private investors. The Hans India Correspondents take a look at the prevailing situation at the ground level in different parts of the state, after the recent announcement of power cuts.
All charges go upA N Viswanath Tirupati: Micro, small and medium enterprises are most affected due to power cuts in this region. The business came down drastically in mandal head quarters and villages. With the power cut problem the medical expenses and consultation fee increased at a few places. The charges of photostat copies and water filling charges also increased two to three times. According to Mr. Subba Raju, Superintending Engineer, the total power requirement is about 54.3 million units per day in entire SPDCL (Chittoor, Kadapa, Nellore, Prakasam, Guntur and Krishna districts), but the company is able to supply only 44 million units. MM Murali, owner of SV Internet Centre, Punganur, said that he is running his business most of the time on inverter. The official power cut in his town is for eight hours, but the unofficial power cut is about two hours more. M. Madhu, Satyam Net Centre, Pakala, said that his average power bill for a month is about Rs. 6,000, which increased by about Rs. 2,500 with recent hike and FSA charges. He had purchased inverter at a cost of Rs. 43,000 and along with two 1 KV capacity batteries and lost almost all 60 per cent of jobs. As the power consumption for Xerox machine is more, it is mandatory to shut all the computers while warming up this machine, he said. Mr. P.Srinivas, owner of a flour mill, said that he don't have any alternate ways to run his 3 HP motors unless there is regular power. These machines won't run on inverters, but to purchase diesel generators, which is not viable economically, he said. Dr. Kiran, Chandramohan Hospital, Madanapalle said that he had recently purchased a 60 KV generator (bio-green) as the power fluctuation and power cut problem is more compared to Tirupati. Since some patients are always on ventilators in his hospital, the uninterrupted power supply is essential and can't be waiting till the arrival of regular power supply, he said. Dr. Krishna Prasanthi, Harshitha Hospital, Tirupati, said that as the power cut here is only two hours a day, she is spending more than Rs. 20,000 for only diesel. Dr. Srihari, President, Indian Medical Association, said patients from rural areas are forced to stay for idle hours. Almost all CT-Scan tests to be done at early hours and with the power cut problem queue system has become essential, he pointed. The ultimate financial burden is to common people, because hospitals or diagnostic centres have to depend on patients for all financial needs. Sunitha, mother of two students, residing in Papanayudipet, near Tirupati, said that she is facing a lot of problem ahead of annual exams. Her husband is the only earning source for entire family and could not procure inverter or generator. The only source is to depend on candles and it is horrible to concentrate on studies in summer scorch, she added. Endless wait in the fields kenny edwin Warangal: Of all the people the farmers are the most affected ones due to the recently announced power cuts by the power starved AP Transco. The twelve hours power cut in the villages has been proving costly to the farmers. With the whole day passing out without power the farmers were forced to wait at their fields in anticipation for the current. 'There is water in the wells and in the canals nearly but there is no power to draw the water. No one knows when the power is supplied and we sit at the pump sets all the time" said a farmer Mallaiah of Siddapurm in the district. He said that he has taken up paddy in his three acres of land and it has become really tough to protect the crop from getting desiccated. He informed that the fields that should be full of water as demanded by paddy are now dry adding 'It affects the crop and the yield'. Kandula Rajitha of Hasanparthy said that they have laid down the pipes from a nearby canal to draw water but all their efforts to water the field are being wasted due to power cuts. "The officials are saying they would supply power after six in the evening but it never happened we all camp at the field waiting for the power supply to restore" said Punnam Jogaiah pointing at all his fellow farmers. Not just the farmers, the students are also most hit in the view of the examinations. Though the students in the district head quarters and those who can buy power inverters are coping up with power cut situation, those in the smaller towns and villages are suffering a great. "The government should have taken into the consideration the plight of the students when it announced the power cuts schedule. It is highly difficult for the students to bear the problem" lamented a parent, T Raj Kumar. The small and medium sized enterprises have also been affected by the power cuts. "We are suffering financial loss to our business due to this power cuts and losing livelihood" said xerox centre proprietor K Ventakeshwarlu of Bhupalpalli. We earn a very meager income but due to power cuts our income is getting a severe beating as we are losing our daily business, said Prahlad Kumar and Ramesh who run a xerox centre and juice centre at Shayampet mandal head quarters. The government should have spared the hospitals from power cuts as it would be highly difficult for a hospital operate without electricity, said P Kodandarama Rao of the town based Kalyani Nursing Home. Village aunt asks for generator KMP Patnaik Visakhapatnam: The load shedding has affected all walks of life, more so in the villages where the people presume they have gone back to the primitive ages. "My aunt B Manikumari called from Tanuku and requested me to send her a generator. She says power supply has been completely withdrawn from the rural areas and with the increasing temperatures children and elderly people are having a tough time,'' says KV Raghuram, who works as an executive for an oil supply company. He said he had decided to send her a second hand generator till the situation improved. "I am resting during power cut and reading when the power is on irrespective of time,'' says G Lavanya and G Gowri, both final year students of Intermediate currently appearing for the board examination. YV Srinivas Murthy, an MBA from London, who runs a restaurant in MVP Colony says his power bill is around Rs 20,000 a month but he has been spending Rs 30,000 on diesel to maintain the generator. Clothe merchant G Monja says he was being forced to close the shop during power cut and open when the power is on. The load relief would affect the performance of the students all over the State. The government should exempt cuts by purchasing power during examination period, says K Prabhavathy of AIDWA. Ch Nagababu, a sweet maker, says he lost thousands of rupees due to unscheduled power interruptions. Tammareddy Bharadwaja, president of AP Film Chamber of Commerce says each cinema hall is incurring a loss of more than Rs 2 lakh since the power cuts were imposed. He said the show ticket rates remained same while the cost of maintenance had gone up many fold due to the load shedding. Chief executive officer of Symbiosys Technologies and vice president of Rushikonda IT Park Association O Naresh Kumar said he paid a bill of Rs 5 lakh in January this year for consuming power more than the allotted quota. The IT was asked to use 60 percent of power during day and 10 percent in the night. "APEDCL is killing industry, average billing is coming to Rs 16 per unit. Penalty is Rs 1,000 per unit. We cannot create employment and run industry with this policy,'' Naresh Kumar told this correspondent. He said Vizag has registered 45 per cent growth rate in IT exports � considered the highest in the country � as against national growth rate of 18 per cent. The load relief has put the government hospitals in a fix. A senior medical officer of King George Hospital said they were hesitant to take up surgeries due to unscheduled power cuts. "I am spending Rs 1.20 lakh on diesel apart from paying a power bill of Rs 70,000 per month,'' says Dr Zaheer Ahmed, who owns AN Beach Hospital on the beach road. Employers can't pay wagesA Samson Rajahmundry: Power cuts are making the lives of the people of East Godavari district miserable. AP TRANSCO is imposing more power cuts than it has announced in the villages, towns and at the district headquarters. The industries and business are in brink of the closure due to the power cuts in crucial timings. Particularly, the students who are preparing for their final examinations are panicking. The demand for power in the district is about 11 million units per day and the supply is around 8 million units. The actual timings of the power cuts in Kakinada and Rajahmundry are four hours, but it is being imposed for more than six hours. In municipalities, power cut is being imposed for eight hours against six hours. In the rural areas power cut being imposed from 6 am to 6 pm. But, the gap between the demand and supply is expected to increase in the summer as the consumption would go up significantly. Speaking to The Hans India, MD of Sri Ramdas Paper Board Private Limited, N Venkata Reddy said, "The industries will go sick if the power cuts are imposed like this. The industries are facing sixty percent of power cuts and the production has gone down to 50 percent. If any industry draws extra power by mistake, penalty of more than Rs five is being imposed. If anyone wants use diesel to generate power, the unit cost mounts to Rs 15 per unit." The condition of the business is also pathetic. Small shops and shopping malls are wearing deserted look in evening times which is the prime time for the business due to lack of power. The traders who depend on machinery are suffering a lot due to indiscriminate power cuts. President, The Rajahmundry Chamber of Commerce, Nandepu Srinivas said, "Every business establishment is in deep disarray due to power cuts. Most of the owners are failing to pay the wages to their workers. In a carpenter shop, owner should pay Rs 800 for two workers per a day. But, he is not able to make the workers to work for full time due to power cuts and he losing money." In the district, aout 60,000 of acres of paddy fields are dependent on bore wells. Only four hours of free power is being supplied against seven hours and the four hours of power too is being given in installments. Speaking to The Hans India, official spokesperson, Konaseema Rythu Parirakshana Samiti, Matta Mahalakshmi Prabhakar Rao said, "It is not possible to wet the fields with four hour power in installments. The farmer with five acres of land will not able to provide water to more than 50 percent and about 70 percent crop loss will occur. Power crisis not a new phenomena and the government should have formulated a plan much earlier to solve the problem either by purchasing power or urging the Centre for gas". 'Why discriminate against Vijayawada?' D Gopi Vijayawada: There is widespread resentment from cross section of the people over the power tariff hike and the power cuts imposed. The political parties have already started fighting on the streets against the tariff hike. The industrialists and other business establishments are up in arms against the irregular power cuts. Though the officials have given power cut schedule, often they don't follow it. Either the power is withdrawn ahead of the schedule or for more than the scheduled time. This is causing severe inconvenience to the industries like hotels and hospitals. "The hotel industry is put to several hardships. There is 60 per cent cut in the daily demand of power supply. We can't draw more than 40 per cent of our requirement and if one crosses the ceiling, the penal amount is five times. We are forced to go for diesel generators to maintain air conditioners for rooms and lift services. It costs us Rs 18 per unit," regretted Ilapuram Raja, the managing director of Hotel Ilapuram. The hospitals too are suffering heavily due to the power cuts. They are finding it hard to handle the intensive care units (ICU) and carry out emergency surgeries. "It has become a herculean task for us to manage the equipment as the power goes off and on frequently. Though there is a schedule, the power goes off either before the stipulated time or restored very late. We have very sensitive equipment and in ICU, the equipment has to function uninterrupted. With the frequent supply interruptions, we are unable to handle the equipment and the patient reading," said Dr A Purnanand, managing director of Purna Heart Institute in Suryaraopet. He said that operating generators too had become difficult for the hospitals as they cause sound pollution. "We have to take special care or invest more to prevent sound pollution, particularly as we deal with the heart patients. The heavy use of diesel generators also causes air pollution which is dangerous for the heart patients," he asserted. The Industry too is suffering and resenting at the power tariff and the power cuts. The Andhra Chamber of Commerce and Industry president, M Murali Krishna and secretary, Ch Prasad, expressed resentment over discrimination meted out to Vijayawada city in the power cut timings. They said that the government had imposed four hour cut for the city, while it is two hours for places like Tirupati and Warangal. Stating that the city has historical and religious importance, they wondered why the government was giving step-motherly treatment to the city. Oh God, help us! Navin Pivhal Hyderabad: It has become a recurrent affair which every denizen of the city has to address whenever summer comes. It appears to be more so this year. A student prays that the power should not go as he has exam next day, a small scale industry and small businessmen have sleepless nights as they are facing grave losses due to these cuts. The list is long. Here are the views of a cross-section of the people as told to The Hans India. The stipulated time here for power-cuts is from 6 pm to 10 pm daily. However, the power also goes in the morning. The power cuts are so frequent that our production is less than half. Labour wait for the power and if they leave we also can't stop them from going and we have to pay them to retain them. As our business is run on high voltage we cannot afford that big generators. - Sukath Mohanty, Meenakshi Paper mills, Shamshabad Hospitals suffer a lot during power cuts. Though there are generators, only a part of machinery can be connected to them like essential services. Corporate and private hospitals can manage with power cuts. But small hospitals suffer a lot. Summer is coming and patients will suffer as there will be no fans and lights in the hospital. Why can't they exempt hospitals? � Dr Manisha Bangar, Care Banjara I run a boutique in RK Puram. Power cut has now become pain for me as all my machines work on electricity. It has also affected my profits as due to lack of power I am not able to stitch as many clothes as I did earlier. Customers don't understand our problem and we have to face their wrath. - Saraswati S, Sonali Boutique Authorities said that they will cut power for two hours or three hours, but that is not happening. With internet becoming cheaper these days people have connections in their home. They mostly come here for scanning, printing and photocopying. So if there is no power we certainly loose our business. It is a difficult life these days and these power cuts are just adding to our woes. - Mahesh Chandra, internet and Xerox centre, Marredpally My child's Inter exams have commenced recently. Due to power cuts it's very difficult to make him study. I advice him to take break during power cut but stepping in his shoes I know it's very difficult to plan time table according to the power cut. - T Poornima, parent