AP Govt’s Sinister Conspiracy On Telangana Farmers

Due to lack of planning on the part of the government, the coal reserves at the thermal plants, are enough only for 7 days. So much so, most of the thermal plants are facing a critical situation. Instead of explaining the problem, the government has opted for the blame game. Both the Electricity Employees JAC and the Political JAC have exposed the ‘conspiracy’ of the government stating that the power problems of the farmers are a creation of the government.

Is the State Government indulging in ‘needless’ power cuts to the farm sector and seeking to blame it on the striking employees of the Singareni Collieries , Transco and the Discoms with a view to creating a wedge between the farmers and the agitators for a separate Telangana state? This is exactly the allegation made by K Chandrasekhara Rao and other leaders of TRS on Monday.

It is a fact that Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy has been complaining to the farmers and the Congress leaders of Medak and Mahboobnagar districts who went to his camp office here on Sunday and Monday respectively that the problems in power production are due to the strike by the employees.

He earlier alleged that the Talanagana leaders have brought about undue pressure on Union Minister for Oil and Natural Gas Jaipal Reddy not to release gas to the power utilities in the state.

This was promptly denied by the Central minister who wrote a letter to the Chief Minister yesterday. Jaipal Reddy said the Centre was ready to give gas and it was the state government which was not forthcoming. He also clarified that no Telangana leader ever asked him not to supply gas to the state.

Underestimated the impact

According to the agitating employees, the state government has underestimated the magnitude of Sakala Janula Samme (SJS) and did not keep the mandatory stock of coal reserves. In normal times, the level of coal reserves at the thermal plants would be enough for 15 days.

It is usual practice that whenever employees of coal mines give a strike notice, the power plants keep a stock of coal for 45 days. In Kharif season, the demand for electricity is more.

Even if there is good hydel production during this time of the year, the thermal production also is maintained at the optimum level. But due to lack of planning on the part of the government, the coal reserves at the thermal plants, including the NTPC plants at Ramagundam and Simhachalam, are enough only for seven days. So much so, most of the thermal plants are facing a critical situation.

Instead of explaining the problem and owning the mistake, the government alleged that the leaders of the agitation has opted for the blame game. Both the Electricity Employees JAC and the Political JAC have been talking about the ‘conspiracy’ of the government to blame them for the problems of the farmers which are created by the government.

The state government has slashed the hours of power supply to farm sector from 7 to 6 hours. Even during those 6 hours, if there is unscheduled power cut that is not compensated by supplying power in the night, as was the practice so far by any government.

The farmers have power supply, in effect, for three to three-and-a-half hours. The crops in Telangana are ready for harvesting and power cut even for a day during this time is detrimental to the farmers.

What went wrong?

Why have things come to this pass? The present demand is 240-260 million units per day. The production, if all the resources are properly managed, would be about 260-280 million units. The governments over the years have been managing the supply without imposing power cut on farm sector.

Even in mid-summer when the hydel generation was almost nil, the neighboring states were not prepared to sell power, the electricity supply to the farm sector was not allowed to suffer. Whenever there is heavy pressure on the supply system, the first category to face the power cut is the domestic consumers, first in rural and then in urban areas.

It would be industrial and commercial sectors to face the cuts. Agriculture sector is subjected to power cut only as a last resort.

All the hydel reservoirs are near full. The hydel plants in the state can generate 65 million units of power each day.

But the government is restricting the generation to 30-35 million units, according to the experts in power sector, in the name of systemic constraints and future irrigation requirements. As there are more number of pump sets that run on power in Telangana, even if the power supply is cut for a few hours these days, the farmers would be adversely affected.

The shortage is only 20-30 million units per day and it is not difficult to cope with that provided the government takes certain precautionary measures. Section 11 of Electricity Bill 2003 permits the state government to restrict the private power plants in the state from selling power to parties outside the state.

Many states like Karnataka have used this option to overcome demand-supply problems. By resorting to similar action, the state can tap about 500-1000 MW (One MW capacity can generate 24,000 units per day or one thousand units per hour).

The government had used this option during the Rabi season to good effect in the case of biomass plants. Moreover, transmission corridor capacity has increased in recent times and many neighboring states are willing to sell power.

The government at present is buying about 800-1000 MW. It could buy more if it wanted to. During the summer, two-day power cut was imposed on industries without affecting the power supply to agriculture sector.

Even the YSR government took many demand side management (DSM) measures. The use of air-conditioners in government offices including the secretariat was banned, supply of electricity to malls and hoardings was restricted.

This time around, the government did not make use of any of these options and straight away imposed cut in the supply of power to the agriculture sector.

Even though there is power crisis afflicting the state, the ministers’ quarters or the residences of high and mighty are not subjected to power cut although these sections have back-up power arrangements.

These factors are behind the charges being levelled by TRS and JAC leaders that the Chief Minister is deliberately trying to pitch the farmers against the agitators for a separate state of Telangana. It is for the government to disprove the apprehensions. [The HANS India]

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