From surplus projection to deficit status in the space of 4 months
Only last February, a confident Haryana had written to the Power Ministry to reallocate its share in a joint venture project, Aravali Power, to needy states since Haryana itself “would soon be power-surplus”. Three months hence, Haryana is staring at its worst power crisis ever, with three plants having suffered a breakdown or facing a coal shortage.
Demand today is so high that power remains short even after the daily supply has gone up 22 per cent since last summer — 1,100 to 1,150 lakh units, up from 900 lakh.
After the February 2 letter from Uttar Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam managing director A K Singh, Union Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde wrote back on May 2 and “advised the state to utilise the 462MW allocated to the state”.
This month, far from allocating its share elsewhere, Haryana has had to buy another 550MW from independent suppliers.
The government had under the 11th Plan sanctioned Rs 25,524 crore, the highest ever outlay to power. This has taken its generation capacity to 4390MW from 1587MW in 2004-05.
In the last two months, generation fell by over 2500MW as two 300MW units at the Yamunanagar plant broke down, a 600MW one at Hisar went into repair and both 660MW units at Jhajjar, the super-critical plant, found themselves with no coal to operate.
The 550 MW bought from outside has ensure just a few hours’ supply to each of various categories of consumers. The power utilities have been imposing long cuts — 14 hours daily on rural consumers, six hours on industry and four hours on urban consumers. The agriculture sector has been sanctioned eight hours’ supply for paddy sowing .
Finance Minister Captain Ajay Singh Yadav says that when the letter predicting a surplus was sent, all plants were working. “We are in a crisis situation as of now but it will improve by the month-end, though it may take a few months before things normalise,” he says.
“The rotor of the Yamunanagar plant has been sent to China for repair. The process will take four months. The two units of the 1320MW Jhajjar plant, owned by China Light and Power, have received only seven rakes of coal and is short of the requirement to fire the plants. The developer has signed a fuel purchase agreement with Coal India and the first unit will start functioning by mid-June, the second unit by August,” he says.
“We will also start getting our share of 400MW from the 1500MW plant of Adani Power at Mundra, which has a dedicated line to Mahenmdragarh in Haryana, from August. When all plants start functioning, we will be power-surplus again.”
Breakdowns and coal shortage are not the only issues. The power distribution companies, Uttar Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam and Dakshin Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam, also face a cash crunch despite a recent tariff hike. The utilities last week met the minister to discuss the cash crisis.
One reason, says the minister, is a large number of unpaid bills. “There are some districts where a majority of consumers don’t pay the bills,” he says. He has directed the utilities to file recovery cases for all deafults beyond Rs 50,000, with a report by November. A seperate list is being drawn of all defaulters who are government employees; these cases will be taken up with their departments.
Also, Haryana ranks high among states on the list of transmission and distribution losses, with 25 per cent in 2011-12. This is despite Haryana being a frontrunner in power reforms — the state electricity board was unbundled in 1998 into separate generation, distribution and transmission companies.
Though the rural domestic load has been segregated from the agricultural load, resulting in improved supply to rural areas, the power department blames the utilities for bloating the agricultural subsidy bill — the state foots over Rs 3,000 crore as farm subsidy — to camouflage its high T&D losses.