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Hope dim on power relief this summer

This summer, there’s no escaping the dreaded combination of soaring temperatures and stilled fans.

Frequent power cuts could continue to plague Calcuttans suffering the sweltering heat, warned CESC officials on Monday. The power failures were termed “unavoidable”, in the absence of any effective mechanism to prevent underground faults in cables and technical snags in power generating units.

CESC’s executive director, distribution, D.N. Mozumdar, said there have been “nearly 150 underground faults”, including half-a-dozen in high-tension cables, over the past 10 days. The faults occurred mostly in the central and southern parts of the city.

“It is really difficult for us to promise a summer free of power cuts. The problems of underground faults are aggravated in summer because of the higher ambient temperature. This year, the Nor’westers, too, affected the overhead network, as broken branches fell on the wires at several points. Besides the damage caused by the heat, flooding of underground cable installations also led to snags,” pointed out Mozumdar.

Other localised factors, too, have added to the power problems. Last week, a high-tension fault in Kalindi crippled the Lake Town area, where vast areas went without power for about 10 hours. “The cover of the high-tension transformer was stolen in Kalindi. Then, water seeped in and a major fault developed. A number of faults was also due to damage caused to underground cables by other utilities,” said Mozumdar.

In case a generating unit breaks down due to tube-leaks or other reasons, “technical reasons” do not permit the CESC to draw unlimited power from the state electricity board (SEB) grid to meet the deficit.

CESC officials have urged consumers to inform the power utility of additional loads, like installation of air-conditioning machines, to enable it to make arrangements for augmenting the network as required.

“We are facing problems of overload in several areas of the city, particularly the central business district and Burrabazar. Harrington Street is also a major offender,” they added.

CESC officials, meanwhile, said they would hold a meeting with the SSKM Hospital authorities on Tuesday to discuss augmenting the electricity network there. Last week, a cable fault at the hospital had disrupted health services and delayed several operations.

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