24×7 Power Supply claim goes phut: Rural Odisha faces 3-4 hrs plug-out!

The State provides 21 hrs power to villages in winter months and 20 hrs during April. Unlike neighbouring states, Odisha rural consumers pay as much as an urban consumer. The power cuts in urban centres were attributed to regular trip-down for overloads

Bhubaneswar: When it comes to have a power play of 24X7 in the rural areas, Odisha failed to click the full scoring rate. Rural areas in the State witnessed power cuts for nearly 3-hours in winter months and around 4 hours in the month of April 2019.

This shows Odisha is not among the 24X7 powered States in the country now, despite the State Energy department claiming itself as power surplus State.

This revelation has come from the data provided by State Discoms (distribution companies) regarding the supply position of power in rural areas to Odisha Electricity Regulatory Commission (OERC) recently.

As per the data available with OERC, Odisha could provide power (not quality power) for around 21 hours only to villages in the winter months (Jan-Feb) and around 20 hours in April 2019.

Now, consider this. Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh in the neighbourhood are providing 24X7 power supply in their respective rural areas.

For the rural populace, this comes as a distressing fact because in the neighbourhood, the rural electricity tariff is much lower than Odisha.

While a domestic consumer in Odisha pays around Rs 3.28 for consumption of a unit electricity, its Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh rural counterparts respectively pay around Rs 2.40 and Rs 3 per unit of consumption.

Significantly, when both the States have different rates for rural and urban consumers, ostensibly for the reason of poor supply quality (low voltage) in villages, Odisha maintains a uniform rate.

The poor rural power play here looks quite telling when the State has a whopping around 18 lakh rural households still having no electricity connections. Moreover, the rural demand is also not staggering as data with OERC suggests the consumption per rural household per day on average in 2017-18 works out at mere around 3.2 units only.

Moreover, as per data tabled in the State Assembly recently, the domestic consumption (urban + rural) since 2016-19 has grown by mere 5 per cent per annum from around 15 per cent per year during 2013-16. The domestic consumption was 6,530 MU (million units) in 2015-16, and it stood at 7,503MU in 2018-19.

The analysis then reveals that the factual meter clearly displays the power supply position in Odisha going bleak over the years, despite no appreciable rise in power demand.

With regard to 24X7 power-supply in urban areas, the data given to OERC claimed no power cut in urban areas at the 11kv feeder level.

What is 11kv feeder? This is the transmission line or distribution network that supplies power from 33kv sub-stations to residential areas.

Though the power supply in the Capital city has been erratic in the month of April, power cuts happen at regular intervals. Even, in the month of June, power cuts become a regular feature during midnight at many places in the Capital town.

“The reply by CESU to OERC is there is no power cut in Bhubaneswar. They are regular trip-downs as the plug-outs happen post sudden rise in demand. But the fact is power infra of CESU is poor as it fails to take the load,” explained a senior OERC official.