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Interrupted Power Supply

Regular power to Goa, but distribution within state is far from being regular

THE ongoing Ganesh Chathurthi celebrations in the state have been marred by frequent power outages ranging from a few minutes to several hours. The problem of power failures is not only afflicting the areas which are supplied power through overhead conductors but also the areas where people get power supply through underground cables, including Panaji. Opposition protested against power outages seeking quick redressal to the woes of the public. Electricity department officials have attributed power failures to heavy rains lashing Goa along with high velocity winds. According to their explanation, a number of poles have been damaged due to falling of trees and or their branches owing to high speed wind and continuous downpour. It is the contention of the department that its employees were finding it difficult to work in severe weather conditions to restore power supply. While recent outages could be attributed to high velocity winds and continuous downpour, people in Goa have been inconvenienced by power cuts even during fair seasons through the year.

It is paradoxical that while on one hand power department officials say the answer to the problem of frequent outages lies in laying underground cables, on the other they says that the problem of outages might persist despite laying underground cables as cables could be damaged due to digging that various government agencies undertake frequently without any coordination. The government has to establish a strong coordination and supervision system before permitting digging in order to prevent damage to power cables and as well as cables of telecommunications or water pipelines. Normally in view of the danger live power cables pose, they are not laid along with water pipelines and other utilities. The electricity department should ensure that when underground power cables are laid they are some distance away from other utilities so as to save them as also the labourers who undertake digging works for various departments and agencies. The power department has set in motion the process for underground cabling by preparing estimates. All it has to do is to lay power cables in a safe underground channel. The government should set up a coordination and supervision system for digging in any case, as that would constitute double security for power or other cables or water pipelines not being damaged.

There was a time when Goans were reconciled to frequent power failures and load shedding as supply of power was lesser than the demand. The situation has changed over the years and Goa is getting adequate power supply from central grids. However, the problem has been intra-state distribution. In most parts of the state power supply is made through overhead lines, which tend to be damaged due to falling of trees or snapping of tree branches and even foul play. In many stretches the cables have outlived their life and tend to snap, disrupting the power supply, especially in villages. Rather than replacing old conductors and poles, the government should raise funds to lay underground cables, though they may cost a little more than replacing the overhead lines in the shortest possible time. This will help government to guarantee uninterrupted power supply. 

As power supply is essential for manufacturing and entities providing various services, apart from domestic consumers in towns and villages, the government cannot escape its responsibility of removing all obstacles in the way uninterrupted power supply. Underground cabling should not be held up for lack of funds. Investment in laying underground cables could be higher but it would prevent frequent outages as also last longer and pay better dividends in the long term as there are lesser chances of them getting snapped compared to overhead conductors. Once that happens, neither the electricity department officials nor the domestic and commercial consumers of power would dread at the approach of the monsoon. Uninterrupted quality power supply is a sina qua non for development of industry and generation of employment in the state.  Goa cannot have large manufacturing industries that can afford their own captive power plants. It is equally important for the quality of life of people. Good roads, safe water and 24×7 power are three important factors that would make life better in the towns and villages of Goa.

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