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Diwali lights drain power-strapped city

The festive sparkle of shops and malls draws off an additional 200 MW of electricity in a city already struggling with a daily shortage of 400 MW

The festival of lights may have brightened the city streets, but the garish glow of shops, complexes and malls is eating into the available power, already being evaporated by the October sun and reeling under coal shortage.



The Tata Power Company and Reliance Infrastructure (RInfra) together generate around 2,300 MW of electricity for the city, while the demand on any given day is 2,700 MW. The state makes up for the deficit of 400 MW by buying electricity from other states.

To add to that the Diwali lighting and the October heat coupled with other factors has taken the daily demand to over 2,900 megawatt (MW) this year, leaving the city to grapple with a 600 MW deficit.

"During Diwali, the malls and shopping complexes in the city consume around 100 MW daily," said energy expert Ashok Pendse. This much power can light up residential areas of South Mumbai like Colaba, Churchgate and Fort put together.

Shopping malls use nearly 30 per cent of power supply solely on electrical lightings, kandeels and hanging bulbs. Moreover, they buy electricity at lesser rates from power companies, instead of using diesel-generating sets that would cost at least Rs 12 per unit, sources said.

"A couple of days ago, the power demand in Mumbai peaked at around 3,000 MW," said a senior official of RInfra, which supplies power to the suburbs right up to Dahisar.

The power supply companies buy power at a rate as high as Rs 6 per unit. However, around the festival, the rates plunge to Rs 4.30 per unit, as several offices, industries and government establishments are closed, which docks the consumption by a good 60-odd MW.

Coal crunch
The state is facing a severe coal crunch due to the Telangana stir in the neighbouring Andhra Pradesh. The dearth was mitigated with the help of the Centre, which slowly started meeting the demand of 700 MW for Maharashtra.

Meanwhile the Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) that supplies power to South Mumbai, claims that it is ready to meet this demand.

"We have created sufficient backup to take care of any surge in demand," said A Patil, deputy general manager (Power), BEST.

Incidentally, only recently one of BEST's receiving stations at Backbay caught fire, which led to power cuts in South Mumbai for nearly two days. Officials had claimed that this was not due to overload.

35 lakh
Number of electricity consumers in Mumbai

2,900 MW
Electricity demand (daily) during Diwali in the city

25

Number of major shopping malls in Mumbai and Thane

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