According to reports, this year, it looks like the festival of lights will be celebrated in darkness. The entire western Tamil Nadu has been suffering power cuts that extend beyond 14 hours daily. On Wednesday, just four days ahead of Diwali, the region including Coimbatore, Tirupur, Erode and Salem, plunged into darkness at 9pm. The power returned early morning on Thursday, but just for an hour, affecting the festival shopping plans of many residents.
Electricity Board (EB) authorities attribute the grim situation to the almost negligent production of wind energy. Despite unexpected rains on Wednesday, a shortage of 4,000 mw of power has led to interrupted supply. As per the TNAU weather forecast, mild showers are expected in the next couple of days. The average rainfall this season will exceed 300mm, the forecast says.
TANGEDCO officials say that they are depending on the rains to bail them out of the power crisis. One of the five gas turbine power stations has been forced to shut down operations due to shortage of gas. This has worsened the power crisis, says a senior TANGEDCO official on conditions of anonymity.
The five gas turbine stations in the state include the one at Basin Bridge, two at Thirumakottai and one each at Valathur and Kuttalam which produce a total of 210mw of energy. “There is a sudden increase in the demand, which may be due to the lack of rain. The additional load is due to the increase in use of air conditioners and pumps by farmers,” the official said. Due to lack of wind, HT consumers are using up their banked energy to run operations.
Meanwhile, residents continue to have sleepless nights. “It is impossible to get a good night’s sleep without a working fan. Our only respite is an occasional cool breeze,” said K Nazar, a resident of G M Nagar in Ukkadam. The situation became severe when many in his family fell sick due to lack of adequate sleep, he added.
“Children stand to suffer the most. Exams are just round the corner and with the long power cuts it will be very difficult for them to concentrate on their studies. Lack of sleep has affected the health of my children. I cannot afford to buy an UPS,” said Rambabu Singh, another resident.