HYDERABAD: Temperature in Hyderabad went up to 44 degrees Celcius on Friday. As if the sweltering heat isn’t enough the people face power outages of eight to 12 hours and unannounced blackouts.
For the urban areas the duration of load shedding is around eight hours, while it is about 12 hours in the rural areas.
According to the general manager of Hyderabad Electric Supply Company (Hesco), which provides electricity to 12 districts in Sindh, the company faces a shortage of 445 megawatts (MW). “Our system’s demand is 900 MW during peak hours,” says Habibullah Shaikh. “But we are getting only half of it.” He believed that the situation will only improve if more electricity is generated through hydroelectric power plants when the river flow increases in the monsoon.
However, for the people who spend restless nights and workless days, the demand-and-supply gap is none of their concern. They often lash out by violent protests and road blockages. “What are we supposed to do if the outages affect our livelihood in the day and leave us sleepless at night?” asks Majeed Baloch, a photostat-shop owner in the city area. Like many small traders Baloch cannot afford to buy a generator and has no choice but to lose a day’s income.
Other areas of the city also complain of night-long power blackouts. A resident of Latifabad’s Unit No. 7, Kamran Khan, there was three-hour long of scheduled power outage in his area but the schedule was more than often not followed. “From the last four to five days there is no electricity from midnight till morning.”
On Friday, a fire in the circuit breakers at Jamshoro grid station caused a seven-hour-long power closure in three universities and Petaro Cadet College and also disrupted work at Liaquat University Hospital.
Similarly the villages are ‘scheduled’ to deal with about 12 hours of load shedding every day, the residents claim that they spend almost three quarters of the day without it.
It is not only the residents who complain. Water and Sanitation Agency also faces the same problem and urges its consumers to bear with the water shortage. Hesco’s spokesman, Sadiq Kubar, attributes the unannounced power outages to the tripping of power feeders which he says happens when the system is overburdened. “It happens more in areas where the rate of power theft is higher.”
He says that usually it takes around 10 minutes to restore a tripped feeder. But if the panel cables spark or develop a fault then the process can take up to 45 minutes. However, the transformers take the longest to begin working again after tripping – from four to five hours. Kubar says that for now Hesco has no plans to increase the electricity supply from the national grid. However it will inaugurate a new grid station later this month to ease supply in some parts of Hyderabad.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 5th, 2012.