Power Theft

Why is DHBVN,an Indian Power utility , unable to stop power theft?

Uninterrupted electricity supply to Gurugram remains a project in the works, even four decades after the Haryana government laid the foundation for a Millennium City by granting a licence to developer DLF Limited in 1981-82, followed by thousands of other real estate giants. The reason for long and frequent power outages is the exponential growth, but a lack of planning has resulted in the Dakshin Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam, the power supplier, not being able to match the demand.

Gurugram’s power need is 2,100-2,200 MW per day, whereas the DHBVN, crippled by poor infrastructure, supplies 1,600-1,700 MW. The deficit is met through diesel generators and solar energy. In peak summer, long power cuts disrupt the daily routine. Here are excerpts from a detailed conversation with Sanjiv Chopra, chief engineer, DHBVN, on the issue.

Why does the city continue to reel under power cuts?

DHBVN does not plan any scheduled power cuts, as there is no shortage of electricity from the power plants. In May, there was some problem at Khedar power plant at Hisar due to coal shortage. DHBVN becomes a soft target for consumers and it is easy to blame us, but the fact is that residents should realise that our primary job is to provide electricity to the fullest extent. Scheduled and unscheduled power cuts cause a loss to the DHBVN as well.

Can you deny that the city faces massive power cuts?

There is no dearth of supply from the power plants. I do not deny that power cuts take place, but I can say for sure that cuts are mainly because of three reasons — damage to electricity cables and poles due to strong winds, which cause short circuits, mostly from May-August; technical reasons and the failure of private developers to augment power infrastructure in their respective colonies.

At present, how much electricity is required to ensure uninterrupted supply? Is DHBVN equipped to meet that demand?

We need to understand this question in a different way. Electricity cannot be stored in plants like water; it keeps flowing and has to be consumed continuously. Gurugram’s population consumed 1,690 MW electricity at one point a week ago, which is the highest consumption of the season. If the city consumes more than this, we will supply. The demand is fixed by the consumption and not by our ability to supply.

Why is the use of diesel generators (DGS) extensive when the electricity supply is adequate?

That is because there is infrastructure problem on the part of the consumers or private developers. DGS are used in upscale societies, industries and shopping complexes and the problem lies in their specific areas. I am sure that the use of DGS has gone down in the last five years.

Aren’t there power cuts in un­licensed colonies?

Again, it may be because of technical faults, theft and other reasons. I would like to clarify that 40% of the residents need to disclose their actual load to augment their electricity supply. For example, people got 1KW load sanctioned 10 years ago for one or two families and now, there are five families living in the building, using ACS and many other appliances although their sanctioned load remains unchanged. Wouldn’t it cause tremendous pressure on transformers and feeders? That is what causes power cuts.

Why is DHBVN unable to stop power theft?

DHBVN is not yet equipped to completely stop theft. There are three kinds of theft of electricity mainly. One, people living in slums and unauthorised colonies steal electricity directly through a conductor. Secondly, people resort to meter tampering through established gangs. The third kind of theft is done by misreporting the meter reading. Dedicated vigilance teams conduct raids, we lodge FIRS and recover penalties. However, all such issues will be done away with under the Smart Grid.

How much electricity does Guru­gram get as its share from the total available strength of the state, in MW?

Again, the electricity demand can be assessed by its consumption at a given point of time. The state has consumed 9,600 MW electricity this season and Gurugram consumed 1,690 MW. In the next couple of months, the consumption will increase further. In the monsoon, people use ACS for longer periods and the demand shoots up.

People say DHBVN takes long to respond to complaints. Why can’t faults in the distribution network be fixed faster?

The electricity distribution infrastructure is a vast network and we have a manual maintenance system. We award maintenanceto private companies. We received many complaints against the maintenance agency and decided not to renew the contract after April 2018. Till the Smart Grid project is in place by 2022, we will have to appoint another agency for the same.

What is the guarantee that distribution will improve once the Smart Grid becomes operational?

Smart Grid project has been adopted by most advanced cities of the world for better and uninterrupted electricity supply. Gurugram is the first city in India where Smart Grid is being executed. We are facing many challenges in the present manual system, which deter uninterrupted electricity supply. Smart Grid is the answer to all this. All overhead electric wires, poles, transformers, etc, which occupy pavements, roads, etc, will be shifted underground and maintenance will be through a software. It would definitely improve the system.

Even two decades after Gurugram’s private areas were established, many of them still do not have direct a connection from DHBVN. Why?

DHBVN is fighting a case in Punjab and Haryana High Court against private builders for not augmenting electricity infrastructure. As per the layout plan of the many licensed colonies, the developers had to set up 33/66 kv substations but they did not. It adversely impacts residents, who do not get electricity and blame us. We have submitted our report to the high court and the government of Haryana, and are awaiting a direction.

What is your vision for 24×7 electricity supply to the city?

The role of consumers is most important for the smooth supply of electricity. We are dependent on electricity for every need. We should conserve electricity, use it carefully and avoid misuse. In Smart Grid, we can stop theft and technical faults but not ensure this. We have to become honest consumers first and then assess 24×7 electricity supply. I also plan to conduct workshops and seminars to educate people about electricity conservation.[Courtesy:Hindustan Times]

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