Home / Politics / Policy /  Drought hit Karnataka to see dark hours until December

Bengaluru: The Karnataka government sees no immediate respite from an acute power crisis triggered by this year’s drought, at least until December.

Karnataka is the second worst affected state by this year’s sub-par monsoon, after Maharashtra. The state government has declared drought in 136 taluks or local administrative units in 30 districts in August.

It is certain that the light showers expected in the rest of the year will not be enough to fill the reservoirs in the hydropower-dependent state, said Karnataka’s power minister D.K. Shivakumar.

According to him, the state plans to add about 2,000 MW of power through measures such as purchases from the central government and building new solar power stations. But, he said, this additional power will start trickling in only by early next year.

The crisis could crucially affect Bengaluru, which houses not only technology companies such as International Business Machines Corp., Microsoft Corp, Infosys Ltd and Wipro Ltd, but also the fastest growing start-up ecosystem in the country.

Almost 25% of the state’s power generation goes to feed the demand in Bengaluru. Even as the government has withdrawn a four-hour load shedding that lasted for a week in the first week of September in Bengaluru, the worst is not over for the city, according to the power minister.

“The power crisis has peaked to the highest levels in 25 years. We have withdrawn the load shedding, but the worst part is not yet over. We expect the situation to get better only by next year," said Shivakumar.

To tide over the crisis, he said, the state government has invoked Section 11 of the Electricity Act, 2003, barring private companies from selling power outside the state.

The total power demand of the state stands at about 6500 to 6700 MW. Against this, the state has 21 power generation stations, which are producing about 4,069 MW against a total capacity of 9,021 MW as on Monday.

The drop in production comes at a time when the state is facing tough competition from neighbouring states in attracting investments. Last week, the government decided to postpone a global investors’ conference scheduled to take place in November to February.

Drought has caused the catchment areas of the river Cauvery to go dry, resulting in poor power production at hydel stations, said Pankaj Pandey, managing director of BESCOM, the Bangalore Electricity Supply Company.

Power generation at the Ballari Thermal Power Station (BTPS) is zero as against a capacity of 1000 MW, as maintenance work on the plant, begun in August, is not yet over. A 210 MW unit at Raichur Thermal Power Station (RTPS) and a 600 MW unit at Udupi station are yet to be resume production after going out of order recently.

The Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FKCCI) has estimated that the unscheduled power cut in the first week of September cost the state a per day loss of 60 to 100 crores.

“The crisis is severe," said Tallam.R.Dwarakanath, FKCCI President.

“For instance, an Ashok Layland plant in Tamil Nadu’s Hosur district is running at full production. And the spare parts supplier from Karnataka’s Shimoga cannot match the demand, as he is facing frequent power outages," said Dwarakanath.

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