Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Power holiday

It is always good to be in Chennai, but once in a while, one is slightly embarassed about the 'privileges' the city enjoys. Embarassed not because those privileges are undeserved, but because the context of those privileges needs to be explained to non-Chennaiites who bristle at the 'unfair' treatment they receive. Right now, it is the issue of power-cuts; normally a power-neutral state, Tamil Nadu has been hit by a combination of factors leading to power availability falling by almost 20%. Power thefts and transmission losses are constants; the official line is that erratic rainfall and lower availability of uranium for the nuclear plant at Kalpakkam are the main causes for the current shortfall.

This shortfall has led to a power cut being imposed all across the state. Factories have been asked to declare an additional off-day each week, as a 'power holiday'. Rolling blackouts have been imposed in all areas. The first such power cut regime came into effect in mid-July; within a week, it was withdrawn for most consumers. Since yesterday, the cuts are back with a vengeance - Chennai will have blackouts for 1.5 hours each day; the suburbs of Chennai will be powerless for 3 hours a day. The rest of the state, though has to suffer through 5 hours without electricity. That creates strong resentment against the city dwellers and there are several demands for more 'equitable power cuts'. But with Chennai generating roughly 4.5% of India's GDP (and about 40% of Tamil Nadu's), longer power cuts in the city will have a huge knock-on effect - and a longer recovery time post the crisis.

The picture is of a substation in the city, just after a new transformer was installed a few weeks ago. Maybe this one too needs a good spell of rain for it to start working!


Kris McCracken said...

As usual, I have very much enjoyed both the photo and the story!

Janet Kincaid said...

Wow. There are so many things we take for granted and electricity is one of them. I hope this issue is resolved soon.

Shantaram said...

>> Kris>> Oh, the pressure! :D

>> DC>> There's some talk that the power cuts are also to build domestic acceptance for the India-US nuclear cooperation deal that's in the works... so it would take a bit of time, I guess :(

sansmerci said...

hey wow nice blog here.. u write on sulekha too rite? m sure u kno bout chennai.burrp.com.. nice place to read n write reviews .. shud b really interesting to u .. happy blogging :)

Shantaram said...

>> Sansmerci>> Thanks for dropping by, and for the comment. Know of burrp, but not a regular there... and no, I don't write on Sulekha:( Thanks again!