Pradeep Pattanayak

If the information shared by the Energy department is anything to go by, a total of 36,391 million units will be generated in Odisha in the current financial year as against the actual requirement of 29,354 million units. It suggests that there would be a surplus of 7,000 million units. 

Yet, people across the State are experiencing double whammy of the rising temperature and unscheduled power cuts. Protesting this, Odisha Jana Sahakti Mancha on Saturday staged a demonstration. 

As if the soaring temperature was not enough, the hour-long frequent unscheduled power cuts have made lives miserable.  These sultry days, scenes like people using handheld fans and sitting under trees to get a temporary relief from the heat during outages are the common ones. The situation in Gunupur in Nabarangpur is not different either. 

The level of pent-up anger among the electricity consumers was seen in Bhubaneswar on Saturday when members of Odisha Jana Shakti Mancha staged a demonstration in Bhubaneswar in protest against the unscheduled power cuts. 

The Mancha warned that the agitation would be intensified across the State if government does not take immediate steps to address the issue. 

“If this is the situation in April, it can easily be imagined the situation in May. If the power cuts continue like this, there is no denying of sunstroke death,” said a member of Odisha Jana Shakti Mancha, Biharibandhu Palei. 

Echoing the same, another member of Odisha Jana Shakti Mancha, Biharibandhu Palei said, “If the government fails to address the issue, there would be agitation all across the State.” 

“Baring power cuts during inclement weather condition like thunderstorms for maintenance, there will be no such cuts in the coming days,” said Energy Minister Dibyashankar Mishra.

“If there is a surplus of 7,000 million units this year, why there are power cuts? This means, the required infrastructure is not adequate. Hence, the State government should make a review of the present infrastructure and direct Discoms to take steps on a war footing,” said president of Odisha Electricity Consumers’ Association, Ramesh Satapathy. 

On the other hand, the energy experts have something different to offer. 
“Our peak demand during this summer season is 5,500 MW. But, 4,800 MW is generated. This has led to power cuts. By increasing the production of hydro power, the problem can be solved,” observed energy expert Bibhucharan Swain. 
In order to bring in a change in electricity distribution for better, the State government had handed the distribution system to Tata Power. But the outcome is not up to the mark.