Why Dwarka’s on a short fuse

Avishek Dastidar, Hindustan Times

Will Akhil Pandey do well in school this year? Will his cousin get her driving licence soon? The answer to both questions is ‘no’, unless the power situation in Dwarka improves
Of late, the five-member Pandey family has been sleeping fitfully, due to the erratic power supply at night
Often, 15-year-old Akhil, a Class 11 student, is too groggy in the morning to catch his school bus at 7.15 am
His cousin misses her driving class for the same reason
“Our fault is that we did not buy an inverter,” said Gyani Pandey (51), Akhil’s mother. “You just cannot survive in Dwarka without an inverter.”
POWER STRUGGLE Dwarka residents know no life without the drone of a generator or the buzz of an inverter
So, hardly any housing society in “Asia’s biggest sub-city” now remains without power backup and an inverter is a mandatory fixture in each DDA flat
Residents who invested their life’s savings into a house here are outraged
“I had to leave my 72-year-old ailing mother at my cousin’s place in Rohini because power cuts were making her ill. I had told her that I would bring her back the moment the situation improved. That was almost a year ago,” said Anil Kumar (48), a senior government official and resident of Sector 18
GENERATOR-NEXT Anxiety about power cuts here borders upon paranoia. For instance, Nav Sansad Apartments — a housing society in Sector 22 whose members are mostly former bureaucrats and parliamentarians — has invested in a high capacity generator worth Rs 1 crore
Almost two-storey-high and with a footprint larger than the floor area of a flat, the generator consumes diesel worth Rs 50,000 every month to power 250 homes.
“Each family pays Rs 2,000-3000 per month for backup power, over and above the normal electricity bill,” said Rejimon CK, President of Dwarka Forum, the federation of residents’ associations in Dwarka
The price of backup power in Dwarka ranges from Rs 9-11 per unit. “With the cost of power backup mounting, we are considering converting the diesel generators to run on CNG,” said Rejimon.
Many housing societies are planning to upgrade their ‘basic’ power backup to run all appliances normally
“We need the (bigger) generator to power heavier appliances and for longer hours,” said KM Kapoor, RWA president of Sheetal Vihar Apartments in Sector 23, which already has a functional diesel generator .
BATTERED ON BATTERY POWER Unlike housing societies that pool in to set up generators, DDA flat residents have to battle outages individually. Inverters are the preferred remedy, but they are only good for running lights and fans for a few hours.
“No power also means no water for us,” said Sunil Sareen (43), resident of Sector 19 DDA flats
Life comes to a standstill for the Sareens — a family of four, including two students —during long power cuts. Without power, they cannot switch on the booster pump to lift water to their apartment, and the children cannot study once the inverter discharges. “On days we have gone without a bath and even lights and fans,” said Sareen
DARK AND DANGEROUS Nearly 80 per cent of streetlights in Dwarka do not work, according to a survey done by the residents’ forum. “Because of the darkness, even the park right outside my house seems unsafe,” said 25-year-old Simi Nair, a call centre executive and resident of Sector 3. Here, too, residents have had to help themselves. Housing societies have installed halogen lamps at their gates to illuminate the approach roads. “How long should we keep waiting (for the streetlights to work)?” said KM Kapoor of Sheetal Vihar Apartments

Arun Kanchan, CEO, BSES Rajdhani Powe Limited spoke to Avishek Dastidar

Residents complain of 2-5 hours of power cuts every day. Your comment?
At times, we are unable to provide power 24×7 due to factors beyond our control.
For instance, with the states over- drawing power from the Northern Grid, ‘low’ frequency-related trippings have increased.
This year, the demand for power has also been unusually high. In June, BSES has actually supplied 20 per cent more power (compared to June 2008) in its areas .
The unprecedented heat wave saw Delhi’s peak power demand shoot up by 5.4 per cent in just a fortnight.

Why don’t you release a schedule of power cuts and stick to it?
Last month, when the power crisis hit the city, we promptly put up a load shedding schedule on our web site www.bsesdelhi.com
Load shedding, if necessary, is strictly carried out as per the schedule.

Why does your response time to faults stretch to 24 hours or longer?
All local faults are attended to on priority and resolved within 2 hours. Occasionally, there have been delays when agitated consumers have prevented our teams from carrying out their work

Dwarka is a vast sub-city. Why does it have only one complaint centre?
BSES has 117 complaint centres across Delhi. Consumers need not visit these offices. They only have to call our 24×7 number 39999707 in Dwarka .
Besides, we have adequate fault repair vans, breakdown restoration vans, emergency power restoration vans and hydraulic tower wagons, which reach the affected areas quickly.

Why don’t 80 per cent of the streetlights work in Dwarka? When will you fix them? Please understand, distribution companies only maintain the streetlights and provide electricity
Over the years, we have done a lot for their upkeep.
The percentage of functioning streetlights has substantially increased from 72 per cent in 2003 to over 98 per cent in 2009.
In case of a streetlight-related complaint, our customers should call our call centre on 39999707/ 39999808.

When will Dwarka get uninterrupted power supply?
There is no specific power issue in Dwarka, except during the recent ‘crisis week’

Arun Kanchan spoke to Avishek Dastidar