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Power gap yawns wider

May 13, 2008

No wonder, the index of industrial production (IIP) is on a roller-coaster. The 9 per cent GDP growth targets may well remain just that—targets—if India Inc. continues to reel under critical shortage of electricity. The latest Central Electricity Authority (CEA) figures for 2007-08 put the peakhour shortage of power supply at 18,073 MW or 16.6 per cent of nationwide generation. The peak shortage was 13,897 MW or 13.8 per cent in 2006-07 and 11,463 MW or 12.3 per cent in 2005-06.

This shows that the country’s peak hour power deficit is rising year after year as the country unfailingly misses capacity addition targets every Plan period.

Mizoram sits at the top of CEA’s ignoble list, with a 40.2 per cent deficit, followed by Meghalaya (38.7 per cent), Bihar (32.7 per cent), Gujarat (26.7 per cent), Maharashtra (26.4 per cent) and Jammu & Kashmir (25.9 per cent). Not a single state has surplus power available during peak hours. Delhi is the best performer, with a deficit of 1.1 per cent (45 MW). Region-wise, the western region, comprising Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chattisgarh (the 36 states and Union Territories are split into five regions, and each region consists of a few states and UTs. The Northern Region, for instance, has nine states and UTs, including Delhi, Chandigarh, Punjab and Haryana), tops the list with a 23.2 per cent peak deficit, while the south has the lowest deficit of 9 per cent.

In terms of energy supply, Andhra Pradesh cut the maximum of 133.7 million units (MU), followed by Karnataka (72.08 MU) during March 2008. Tamil Nadu followed a different style. It did not allow industries using low-tension power to work between 6 p.m. and 8.30 p.m. Punjab and Rajasthan, too, imposed similar restrictions.

CII Principal Advisor (Energy) V. Raghuraman notes that the manufacturing sector has little option but to go for captive power generation using diesel. It is, however, a very expensive proposition as each unit of electricity generated by this method costs Rs 15-18 against Rs 5-7 for supply from the grid.

Meanwhile, the country’s IIP continues to swing up and down.

K.R. Balasubramanyam

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