Power minister Aroop Biswas met senior officials of private power utility CESC on Monday and asked them to increase the number of their technical teams and have more personnel to address the frequent complaints of power outages.
The minister told the city’s monopoly power utility that their performance was “tarnishing the image of Bengal”.
Biswas told The Telegraph later that he was “upset” over the increasing number of complaints of power outages. “I have told them to immediately increase their manpower and the number of technical teams so there should be no more complaints. I have told them I should not get a single complaint of power cut from their areas.... This is tarnishing Bengal’s image,” Biswas said.
Officials in the state power department said this was the third meeting within a month with CESC officials to remind them about their “performance”.
“It is a private agency. But there have been many complaints of power cuts and outages across the city. Social media is full of complaints against CESC. That means there must be something wrong somewhere for which the entire state is getting a bad name,” said a senior official in the power department.
CESC caters to around 35.5 lakh consumers in and around Kolkata. Power outages have been reported from across multiple pockets of the city throughout summer this year.
The minister on Monday complained about power outages reported from Kolkata, Howrah, Serampore, Barrackpore and Dum Dum, the power department official said.
CESC officials have till now blamed consumers for consuming power beyond their meter’s sanctioned load capacity for the outages.
On Monday, when asked about the meeting, CESC officials said they would abide by all the instructions from the minister.
“The minister has specifically expressed his concern and asked for an increase in the number of technical teams and manpower and also the monitoring process. We have taken his advice very seriously and would comply with that,” said a senior official at CESC.
“Now we have a workforce of 5,000 personnel. This includes personnel of all ranks.”
According to data provided by CESC, it has witnessed a jump of 425MW power consumption between the average midnight peak demand last year in June and the same period this year. “Last year, the average midnight peak demand in June was 1,940MW. This year, it is 2,365MW. We have been able to cater to this jump of 425 MW,” the official said.
However, many CESC consumers told The Telegraph they have faced repeated outages in their neighbourhoods.