Following a massive public outcry, akin to the time the state faced an unprecedented power crisis some years ago, the government-owned electricity distribution company has withdrawn prolonged outages in major cities and towns, including Mumbai's eastern suburbs, Thane and Navi Mumbai.
The Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd (MSEDCL) has arranged for extra power to mitigate some supply deficit, blamed on a poor coal supply to thermal power stations.
Last month, mid-day had reported that the outages would extend to Mumbai's eastern suburbs, Thane and Navi Mumbai. In the past two days, MSEDCL was forced to deny power to these areas for at least three hours daily.
MSEDCL spokesperson told mid-day yesterday that areas classified as A and B categories - based on quantum of revenue recovery and power theft - would continue to get uninterrupted power. On Friday, MSEDCL bought 700 MW from power exchange at higher rates. The regulator will decide whether to pass on the extra cost to consumers.
To reduce power shortage, the Koyna hydro station is running overtime to supply 1,200-1,400 MW daily, but it can't run non-stop because it needs to conserve water to operate in emergencies.
Why the problem?
Industry experts say that buying power from nationwide sources would become more difficult and costly because of a serious dip in coal production. They fear that the state and country would go the way it had gone during the UPA regime. And they have blamed policymakers for it.
Coal India mines have been going slow in digging out the fossil. Days are taken to carry trainloads of coal to thermal stations from far-off mines. Sources said a workers' strike in coal-rich eastern states had affected coal production.
However, the Union Coal Ministry is also being blamed for the mess, because it has not learned from the past. Also, the Centre's been accused of creating the shortage with an intention of importing coal that an Indian corporate, close to the current political dispensation, mines abroad.
In September, Mahagenco had coal only for four days. The situation hasn't improved much, because the coal supplied is still not sufficient, or if supplied, it's of a bad quality.
Firms battle uncertainty
Power generation companies Reliance and Tata too are in a precarious state, as they have a short supply at their disposal. BEST depends on Tata for electricity. The three companies together need 2,700-3,000 MW daily.
Sources said the Mumbai companies have made arrangements to buy power from all possible sources. However, MSEDCL's decision of exclusively favouring urban areas hasn't been appreciated by Opposition parties and consumers.
"Wrong polices of the government have affected consumers across Maharashtra. The affected will revolt... The state government is not brave enough to ask the Centre for additional supply. On the other hand, the NCP had made the state power-surplus," said Opposition leader in legislative council Dhananjay Munde.
Interestingly, MSEDCL did not face any issue in peak summer, as it managed to supply a record-breaking 23,000 MW daily this May. Energy minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule said, "Outages are temporary as coal mines were waterlogged. The supply will improve soon. We will have enough electricity for Diwali."
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Number of Mahagenco units shut
Daily requirement Mahagenco is contracted to supply
Quantity Mahagenco is able to provide every day
Power Adani is supposed to supply daily
How much Adani has been able to provide daily
How much Rattanindia must supply every day
Quantity Rattanindia is supplying daily
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