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No end to power crisis

Silchar June 7: There appears to be no end to the woes afflicting the people in the Barak valley though output in the 363MW Palatana gas-based thermal power unit in Tripura began on June 1. The unit guarantees a load of 120MW of steady power to Assam.

There are signs of the onset of monsoon in a day or two, thus reviving the state’s hydel projects. The Barak valley districts of Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi had registered an all time low of 1,800mm rainfall last year.

Benoy Nandi, CEO of Assam Distribution Company Limited’s south Assam region, today claimed that with the improvement of power supply from Palatana, the power position in the Barak districts had improved to about 60 per cent of the total demand of 109MW during peak time.

But consumers said the claim was “grossly exaggerated” as load shedding is frequent in Barak areas, at times in every hour.

The crisis has affected tea and other business units.

as well as owners of small business units such as printing press, lathe machine units, steel fabricators and Xerox units have been bearing with what they dub as the “awful dearth of power in the valley”.

The Cachar branch of the Tea Association India today gave a note to the authorities citing the daily power outages in the valley. The power supply is vital to the tea industry in this valley as it is used to run its tea processing units almost round the clock. The tea output in the about 105 working gardens has been steadily plummeting since 2011 in the wake of the drought situation in winter and summer months. Last year the total tea output in Barak gardens was pegged at 47.62 million kg as against 52.37 million kg recorded in 2012. In the pre drought times it was almost regular that the average output was of the levels of 55 million kg a year.

Since February this year a mere 114mm of rains were experienced in Barak gardens as against 500mm of showers that were recorded during this time span last year, according to the regional office of the Tea Research Association in Silcoori near here.

The shortfall of tea output in Barak gardens has, however, ironically come as a windfall for the fortunes of the tea industry as the prices of tea in the valley districts are now on the spiral selling per kg at Rs 185 at the highest.