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Curbs on Assam power purchase off

- Crisis likely to end after national grid restarts supply of 670MW; AEDA offers safe alternative
Activists of the Lakhimpur district unit of the Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuva Chhatra Parishad burn the effigy of Tarun Gogoi on Thursday to protest against the frequent power cuts in the state.
Picture by UB Photos

Guwahati, May 29: The power crisis prevailing in Assam since Saturday is likely to abate since the National Power Dispatch Centre-controlled agencies withdrew the restriction on purchase of power by the Assam Power Distribution Company Limited (APDCL).

APDCL public relations officer Chandra Mudoi told The Telegraph today that power supply of 670MW from the agencies had been resumed, while the Karbi Langpi hydroelectric project resumed supply of another 80-85MW of power during the peak hours between 6pm and 11pm.

The peak hour demand in Assam stands at 1,300MW to 1,400MW but it receives only about 200-250MW from power units in the state and the rest of the Northeast.

The state has to depend on the national power grid and the NPDC-controlled agencies to meet the shortfall.

“Even today we are short of about 200-250MW power during the peak hour,” Mudoi said.

Assam power minister Pradyut Bordoloi had requested the Union power ministry on Monday to increase the supply from the NDPC-controlled agencies, which was reduced by 170MW since Saturday.

The state normally procures 670MW daily from NPDC-controlled agencies but the reduction in supply further aggravated the situation and resulted in frequent load shedding in many parts. The restriction was imposed owing to increase in power consumption in other states, APDCL officials said.

The demand for electricity in the state has gone up to 16 per cent this year against the national rate of eight per cent. The state’s power demand stood at 650MW in 2007.

The state power utility had expected a 13 per cent increase in demand this year but an increase of 150MW from last year’s demand of 1,250MW has surprised the company.

APDCL managing director R.L. Baruah said the increase in power demand was because of the fast growth in business and construction activities in Assam.

“Unlike Gujarat and Maharastra, business activities in our state are in a developing stage. New restaurants and hospitals are coming up, while real estate projects require more power. This has propelled our power demand, which is likely to go up further as new five-star hotels are coming up,” he said.

Shutting down of the gas-based project at Palatana in Tripura on May 17 had created the power crisis. Normally, Assam gets 240MW from the Palatana project and the supply is likely to resume on June 1.

The power cuts had led to protests by different organisations across the state. Many organisations alleged the state government had failed to meet the power demand, while it was going for a hike in tariff and not taking measures to set up small power projects to generate ample power.

Baruah, however, said there was no shortage of power in the national power grid and they could easily buy power through online bidding. But they were facing problems since the distribution network in the state was not well-developed.

“We hope to tide over the problem as we are setting up 75 new sub-stations with the funds sanctioned by the Asian Development Bank, World Bank and the Assam government. We hope the situation will improve in a year,” an APDCL official said.