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Vikash Sharma

Several parts of the country are likely to face power crisis owing to depleting coal stock with power generation companies. Unscheduled power cuts in several states have compounded the miseries of people as they now battle intense heat wave conditions with early onset of summer.

The country is staring at power cuts this year as utilities' coal stock is at the lowest pre-summer levels in at least nine years. Similarly, the electricity demand is expected to rise at the fastest pace in at least 38 years.

Odisha, a predominately power surplus state, is too feeling the heat with consumers and experts questioning the power cuts by the power distribution companies (Discoms). Resentment is also brewing among people over frequent power outages.

Ajay Pradhan, a consumer said, “We are facing difficulties due to unscheduled power cuts. The companies are collecting electricity bills on time. But they are not providing services properly.”

Bimbadhar Dalai, another consumer said, “Things have changed after Tata Power took over the power distribution. Earlier, the authorities were taking steps over our grievances, but they are not paying any heeds now.”

Power crisis is assuming serious proportions in states like Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat and other parts. But many are unable to digest power crisis scenario in Odisha which has been a power surplus state.

Power analyst, Anand Mohapatra said, “ The state government claimed to have spent crores of rupees on creating of power infrastructure including 500 33/11kv sub-stations and more money was also sanctioned. But whether such assets came under distribution companies and whether such units are functional or not is now doubtful.”

Ramesh Satpathy, Odisha Electricity Consumers’ Association president, “There cannot be powercuts in power surplus states. If power cuts happen, the power distribution companies should inform people the reason. The State government should also clear the scenario.”

Several steel, aluminium and other sectors are also struggling to run their captive power plants with depleting coal stocks. Recently, the Utkal Chamber of Commerce and Industry (UCCI) had urged the Centre and Odisha government to address the coal shortage issue. The association members said that the power plants are left with two-days of coal stock instead of 15-days.

The state might also see frequent power cuts from next month if coal linkage is not streamlined.

Bramhanand Mishra, President UCCI said, “After the coal shortage crisis in August, the situation had improved in power plants. But now they are left with two days of stock. It may aggravate situation with frequent power cuts if no step is taken on urgent basis.”

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