State should work on laying underground power cables
Even while the people are battling the surge in coronavirus cases, the situation has been made worse with frequent power failures in several parts of the state. According to the power department officials, around 250 calls a day were received on its helpline in the last one week. The power outages last from a few minutes to several hours. And reports of outages have been received from several towns. Though outages are also reported from Panaji, the situation in other parts of the state is no better. In the smaller towns and rural areas power outages can be of the duration from 2 to 12 hours and even more. In most cases the power outages have been attributed to snapping of cables by falling tree branches. Interestingly, the power outages have been reported also in areas where underground cables have been laid. The problems are likely to increase and could become more intense as the summer progresses, making the daily life of the people uncomfortable.
The arrival of summer has led to an increase in power usage, especially because of gadgets used for cooling of houses, business premises and offices. The chief engineer of the electricity department says there have been no power cuts and that his department is only resorting to planned shutdowns. The power department has claimed that there was no shortage of power, which means that the outages were due to faulty distribution systems, caused by failures in the power lines, faulty feeders, transmission breakdowns during changeovers, etc. While the situation is better in places where underground cables have been laid, the areas where overhead wires are used for power distribution continue to suffer more as snapping of branches of trees is quite frequent in these areas leading to breakdown in power supply. With the power department set to order more shutdowns to carry out pre-monsoon works, which are necessary to ensure smooth supply of power during monsoons, people would continue to be affected in the days ahead, especially on Sundays when shutdowns are carried out.
Though power supply and distribution network has been taken to almost all areas of the state, it is sad to note that it is erratic, especially in rural areas. The industries get preferential allotment as they pay higher rates for power consumption and restoration of power in cases of faults and other issues, but the common man is not so privileged and has to wait for hours to get back power supply. There is no doubt that the industries contribute to the economic wellbeing of the state and do deserve faster service, but common people should not be made to wait for hours or another day as they too have to get proper sleep or their children have to study in a comfortable environment in order to get back to work or studies next day and as such deserve quicker restoration of power to use cooling devices. It has to be noted that lack of proper rest and sleep especially during nights could have adverse effects on people while travelling by self-driven vehicles or at work and lead to accidents, which could be fatal.
Though the state has managed to get enough power to meet its requirement, the authorities should focus on supply of uninterrupted quality power that would be beneficial to the industries, the businesses and common men. Though the laying of underground power cables has been undertaken, it is limited to certain areas like the coastal zone or the constituencies represented by the powerful politicians. Even in areas where there are underground cables there are cases of power outages almost on a daily basis, though the duration of these outages is mostly quite less to those in other areas. The scene obviously demands strengthening of the power distribution networks and uninterrupted power supply. If the distribution systems need money for improvement, the government must allocate funds for it. The state electricity department must work without delay to explore the possibility of laying underground power cables throughout the state and of ensuring quality and uninterrupted power supply. The task should be undertaken and carried out at the earliest.