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Mercury marches in April
- Muggy Monday temperature hottest this year, daily dose of power cuts adds to anguish

Miserable Monday saw the mercury climb to 38.4 degrees Celsius, two degrees above normal, making it the hottest day of the year.

This topped the mercury mark of 38.2 degrees Celsius on April 3.

As Met officials said the sweltering heat would continue for the next 24 hours, power department officials warned of regular loadshedding till June-end.

The city and its neighbourhood experienced power cuts ranging from 60 to 90 minutes on Monday evening as the peak-hour shortfall in the CESC-served areas rose to 80 MW.

“We can only expect some improvement in July, when the first 225 MW unit at the Purulia pump storage hydel project is commissioned,” admitted a power department official.

At the Alipore Met office, there was no respite in sight from the heat and sweat. “Over the past few days, there is wind in the lower atmosphere blowing in from the sea, leading to incursion of moisture. The scorching sun and the humidity have led to the discomfort,” said G.C. Debnath, director of weather section at Regional Meteorological Centre in Alipore.

The moisture in the atmosphere leads to the formation of medium and high clouds at night. Heat from the earth surface cannot escape because of the cloud cover. “This causes a rise in the night temperature,” explained an official.

The minimum temperature on muggy Monday was pegged at 28 degrees Celsius, three degrees above normal.

Regular power cuts are adding to the April anguish. A CESC official pointed at a 40 MW rise in demand over last summer.

“Many more shopping malls and housing estates have come up in and around the city. This has led to the increase in demand for electricity,” said Bijoy Chakraborty, CESC’s chief general manager (system operations).

The CESC units are pumping in about 900 MW to the city grid. The private power utility has also made arrangements to import about 50 MW of electricity from Tripura and Andhra Pradesh during evening peak hours. But the demand-supply gap has not been bridged.

The evening power cuts are pushing up the sale of inverters — once a fixture in many city households — this month. “The peak season has not yet started but the sale of inverters has definitely gone up compared to last summer,” said Debashish Mazumdar of Radio Spares on Madan Street.

Branded machines, along with Exide batteries, cost around Rs 13,000. “Inverters are preferred over generators because they are non-polluting and noiseless,” explained a shop-owner, adding that sales were highest among households with children struggling to study after dark.

“The lights go off every evening from 7 pm to 8.30 pm, a dreadful reminder of the dark days of Calcutta two decades ago,” said Oisika Gupta, a 38-year-old resident of a highrise off the Bypass. “Power and water supply, 24x7, was a prime attraction for us to return to Calcutta (from Delhi) last year. Now, we are suffering the humidity and the power cuts,” she grumbled.

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