Madhya Pradesh, currently a hotbed of political rivalry with bigwigs of the two national parties charging at each other, has its state power department facing an unusual problem. Since April 9, incidents of supply tripping, manual interruptions and sabotage of wires and transformers have increased significantly.
On April 29, there was no power supply for half an hour at the polling station in Chhindwara, when Chief Minister Kamal Nath had gone to cast his vote. While the Chief Minister cast his vote using lights on mobile phones, social media was buzzing with people cracking jokes on the incident.
“Some mischievous groups of people tampered the transformer. It took the department 20 minutes to identify the spot and take corrective measures. By then the damage was done,” said an official, requesting anonymity. He further added that this was just one of the several incidents they were facing since the poll season began.
MP is one of the few power surplus states with zero peak power supply deficit. Officials said power supply in MP increased by 16 per cent year-on-year during April. They are of the view that politically motivated gangs and groups of people are repeatedly sabotaging the wires, transformers and interrupting power supply. Between April 19 and 28, power interruptions and outages because of external disturbances doubled in Jabalpur, Indore, Gwalior, Bhopal, etc.
Power tripping data accessed by Business Standard from the regional load despatch centre and the Central Electricity Authority indicated that the number of tripping rose to 10,393 on April 16 from 1,907 on April 9. By April 28, when six constituencies — Mandla, Chhindwara, Shahdol, Sidhi Jabalpur, and Balaghat —went for voting, there were 949 incidents of tripping that day. This includes manual sabotage, weather disturbances and supply interruptions by external sources.
The state’s 23 remaining constituencies will vote in the upcoming three phases till May 19.
Officials said 949 was a high number. “On three days 15-17 April, there was storm and rains in some parts of the states, which impacted power supply but even that was given political colour,” he said, adding that when compared with last year, hours of outages have reduced 60-85 per cent in Jabalpur, Rewa, Sagar, Bhopal, Gwalior, Indore, Ujjain, etc (year on year comparison for month of April). Outages pertain to time taken to restore power supply, which the officials claim is better but tracking manual sabotage is difficult.
Following several complaints of unscheduled power cuts, Chief Minister Nath suspended close to 400 employees of the power department, said reports. The BJP government has been attacking the state for reducing the power supply. Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his rally on April 26 claimed that the Congress-led state government is cutting electricity supply to show reduction in power bills.
“The Congress had promised to reduce electricity bills and found a solution to do so by reducing electricity supply in your homes. The Congress government here is running on the formula of supplying lesser electricity than the previous Shivraj-led government. Is this not a betrayal?” the PM said.
The Congress rode to power in MP in December 2018, ending 15-year rule of Shivarj Singh-led BJP government.
At 23,334 Mw, MP is among the top three power generating states in India. In March, peak power demand in Madhya Pradesh stood at 12,328 Mw and supply was 12,323 Mw.