The power situation worsened on Friday, forcing Salt Lake and other suburbs to cope with up to eight hours of the year’s hottest day without fans and air-conditioners. Areas within the city limits went without power for around three hours.
The deficit in CESC-served areas was 305MW and in areas under the state utility 800MW during peak demand. The shortfall was 100MW more than Thursday’s in the city and 200MW in the rest of the state.
“We are not sure when the situation will normalise but certainly not before Sunday,” said an official of the power department.
Students appearing for the Higher Secondary complained that repeated power cuts throughout the examination had affected their performance.
“There were power cuts for 30-45 minutes during Bengali, English, physics and chemistry papers. It was difficult to concentrate in the heat,” said Sumit Roy, an examinee from Labanhrad Vidyapith.
Prolonged power cuts at home proved more challenging for students. “All through the examination, there have been power cuts for around six hours every day. It was difficult to study by candlelight. I could not complete revisions before most exams,” said Kanaya Dutta, an examinee who stays in Salt Lake.
The elderly suffered just as much. Panchkari Mukherjee, a 78-year-old retired telecom employee, said he was getting used to spending his evenings sitting in the unlit verandah of his HB Block apartment with his 68-year-old wife Sheela.
“We cannot have dinner till power comes back. At this rate, I’ll have to invest in an inverter,” Panchkari said.
Had it not been so hot, the demand for power would have been 50-100MW less and there would not have been so many power cuts, claimed the power department official.
The department has requested people to switch off air-conditioners between 6pm and 10pm.
State chief secretary Asok Mohan Chakrabarti and power secretary G.D. Gautama met on Friday to review the situation.
Chakrabarti said after the meeting: “The power minister convened a meeting at New Secretariat today. The power shortfall is a matter of concern for us.... The demand has shot up with the temperature. The absence of Nor’westers has made the situation worse.”
Gautama said: “The units at Bakreswar and Kolaghat that had tripped are expected to be back in operation from tomorrow. We are talking with the railway to ensure proper supply of coal.”
Coal India alleged the railway had failed to provide enough wagons at the right field at the right time to ferry coal. An official of the company clarified that there was no problem in getting rakes from Eastern Railway. “The problems are with South Eastern, Central and East Coast railways,” he said.
Eastern Railway issued a statement that “rakes were never in shortage for coal loading”.