The managing director of Manipur State Power Distribution Company Limited (MSPDCL), Hijam Shantikumar, has said that the frequent power cuts are due to increase in demand of power as compared with the allotted power in the state.
However, a sum of Rs 60,91,000 has been collected as penalty for illegal usage of electricity from April 2023 till date while 979 cases on illegal power consumption were found and seven FIRs registered.
For the last few months, people across the state have been facing irregular power and many of them are curious to know the problems of the irregular power. However, what is interesting to note here is that around 90 per cent of the consumers in the state have registered for pre-paid power service.
And following the frequent power cuts, many netizens are also seen criticising the MSPDCL on social media for their inability to supply power properly.
However, to avoid irregular power cuts and misuse of energy, Manipur is the first state to introduce pre-paid electricity service in India.
MSPDCL MD H Shantikumar told the Imphal Free Press in an interview that with the increase in demand of power, as compared with the present allotted power in the state, people are facing irregular power supply. He said, one of the factors is that hydro power generators are not able to function properly due to less rainfall.
Out of the three units at Loktak Hydro power, only one unit is functioning and from that one functioning unit only 10 megawatt can be generated, he said. That too, only during the peak load time which is during morning and late evening, he added.
For the state the allocated power is 242 mega watt but during the peak load time only 160 megawatt is allotted. In the last few weeks the company is using around 20 megawatt from the power bank that was stored during the months of June and July and also bought some power from the exchange at the rate of Rs 10 per unit. In the last few weeks MSPDCL is able to decrease the irregular power-cut for evening peak load time, he added.
The MD also said that during morning peak hours, the power load the state requires is 220 megawatt power but the state is able to get only 90 megawatt. Due to this, the state is facing an irregular power-cut in morning hours, he added.
MSPDCL MD H Shantikumar (PHOTO: IFP)
Shantikumar said even though the company wanted to buy more power from power exchange but with the increase in demand and low in power supply, the company is unable to fulfil the demand of the people of Manipur.
He said not only Manipur but many states that depend on hydro electric power are also facing the same power shortage except for those states that can generate electricity through thermal electric power.
Moreover, due to the prevailing unrest in Manipur and one being unable to move freely, the employees are also facing huge problems in power maintenance, he added.
One of the factors is the inability to collect revenue last year when the state government suspended internet service due to the then prevailing law and order situation. As electricity is one of the most essential items, people started using the electricity illegally without passing the electricity through the pre-paid metres, the MD said.
And even though the state government has lifted the ban on internet service from most parts of the state, except for vulnerable peripheral areas, some consumers are taking advantage and still using unaccounted energy illegally, the MSPDCL MD said.
To check illegal use of electricity, the company conducted a drive at various areas including in hill districts since April last year and has been able to collect a sum of Rs 60,91,000 as penalty. During the drive, 979 cases of unaccounted energy usages were found and among them seven FIR were registered. Shantikumar said that in the last year before the crisis began, a sum of around Rs 27 lakhs was collected as penalty against unaccounted energy user consumers.
As compared to the previous year before the crisis, revenue turn up has drastically decreased in some of the hill districts including some valley areas, he added.
Responding to IFP, he said for any unaccounted energy use the consumer has to pay three times the amount per unit consumer use. There are provisions that such consumers can be booked and sent to jail for stealing energy, he said.
He further said the company needs a sum of Rs 60 crore to buy energy for Manipur and that before the crisis began, the company could collect a sum of Rs 40-45 crore. However, after the crisis began, the company could hardly collect a sum of Rs 30-35 crore with a deficit of Rs 15-20 crore.
If the consumers are not cooperating with the company then the state might face more severe issues on irregular power-cut, he cautioned.
He further said the company is trying its level best to solve the irregular power cut issues and appealed to the consumers to cooperate with MSPDCL.
The irregular power-cut issue could be solved by as early as February if the consumers cooperate with MSPDCL, he added.