Uninterrupted power supply has always featured prominently in the (dwindling) list of privileges that Mumbaikars can claim to enjoy. However, this too is gradually becoming a thing of the past. Residents of the island city and the central suburbs know this all too well — in the last few days, there have been a slew of minor power cuts. What’s worse, residents complain that hours pass before personnel are sent from the city’s power distributor — Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST). Authorities have blamed these delays on a severe staff crunch.
Sources in BEST said that nearly 1,500 personnel man the maintenance department at present, who attend to all problems that crop up in power supply throughout the expanse of the island city. Catering to 10 lakh power consumers, they have to attend to at least eight to ten complaints in a day. “The administration needs to fill at least 2,000 vacancies in the supply division alone. It takes a lot of time to rectify technical faults,” said Ravi Raja, a BEST committee member.
Another BEST member, Suhas Samant, revealed that there is a major crunch of lower-rung staff members who have to be present at the spot to rectify faults. They attend to complaints or calls made to BEST to report cases of power tripping or power cuts. The process of filling up these spots has been slow and sluggish, admitted officials.
During heavy rains recently, power supply in several parts of the island city, including Dadar, Matunga, Sion, Shivaji Park and Churchgate were affected. Power consumers claimed that there was no electricity for over nine hours. “There was a power cut at around 8.30 pm, and electricity supply was restored only at around 6 am the next morning. On the same day, some staff from the BEST visited our building to examine the problem,” said B Jain, a Dadar resident.
Although officials confirmed a shortage of maintenance staff in the supply department, they attributed the incident last week to a technical glitch at one of the supply stations.
Power disruptions are more frequent in the monsoon season. “During rains, water splashes against the hot power supply lines, causing the cables to crack. This disrupts power supply,” explained a power expert.
You may have to pay more for power soon
This just in — your electricity bills may increase by a small margin soon. Recently, the generation wing of Tata Power filed a petition with the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) asking BEST and Reliance Infra to pay arrears of Rs 13.36 crore per month and Rs 9.39 crore per month respectively. If BEST and Reliance are told to cough up their dues over a period of nine months, the two power distributors are likely to recover the cost from their consumers in the months to come.