The Telegraph
Sunday , July 13 , 2014
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ASEB mulls 24/7 power plan

Workers pluck leaves at a tea garden in Assam. File picture

Silchar, July 12: The Assam State Electricity Board (ASEB) and the power department are planning to supply dedicated power to tea gardens in the Brahmaputra and Barak valleys.

The announcement of such a scheme is likely to bring cheer to the estates in Assam at a time they are badly hit by frequent power cuts, which has hurt the output of tea.

The scheme is meant only for running the factories to help manufacture tea and not for other power requirements of the gardens. It is not for gardens, which donít have their own factories.

Announcing the details of the plan, the secretary of the Barak valley branch of the Tea Association of India (TAI), Kalyan Mitra, said today that the power utility would ensure dedicated round-the-clock supply in lieu of payment from gardens which seek such a scheme.

Mitra said the total funds outlay for supplying power under the scheme would be shared between the ASEB and the tea estates, with the utility agreeing to bear the bulk of the expenditure.

He said the ratio of sharing the expense between the ASEB and the garden authorities would be announced after discussions.

Mitra said the scheme for supplying round-the-clock power to gardens would be completed in three phases and the timeframe for the phases announced after talks with the tea companies.

He said already four gardens in the Barak valley have agreed to avail of the scheme and are now in talks with the ASEB for executing the plan. Power cuts in the Barak valley range from one or two hours at intervals totalling about 10 hours daily.

The frequent outages have been a cause for concern for plantation authorities already suffering shortfall in tea yield and their profit margins in the wake of a near drought in the summer and less than average monsoon rainfall.

The Telegraph had reported in its July 10 edition about several gardens contemplating to opt for solar power in the face of the power crisis.