John L. Paul
Centre sanctions Rs.150 crores
KOCHI: Power supply distribution in the city is set to get a boost with the Union Government sanctioning Rs.150 crores for the Accelerated Power Development Reforms Programme.
Highly-placed sources in the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) have said the Central aid, a portion of which is being given as loan, will be used to build new sub-stations, increase the capacity of existing ones, convert overhead lines into underground cables and construct new unitised (closed) transformer stations.
The past few years have seen unprecedented demand for power in Kochi, thanks to the construction boom. Modern, centrally-air-conditioned high-rises are coming up in different parts of the city. In many cases, they require one dedicated high-capacity transformer to meet their power needs. Households too have begun installing ACs, to beat the heat. The Rs.150 crores will be spent in three years, mainly in the months from November to May, when there is little rain, officials said.
The KSEB has managed to bring down transmission and distribution loss in Kochi from 20-22 per cent a couple of years back to 14 per cent, through concerted efforts. It is facing hassles in laying underground cables since cables of telecom companies and water/oil pipelines are laid close by. Faced with shortage of infrastructure, the Board plans to hand over cabling work to private contractors who have adequate machinery at their command.
Along with increase in connections, some areas in the city have been facing frequent disruptions in power supply, in the peak of summer heat. The Kerala State Consumer Welfare Organisation has approached the State Human Rights Commission demanding an end to frequent power-supply disruptions, which affect the functioning of hospitals, water-pumping stations and so on.
Board officials say that power disruption could be due to pre-monsoon maintenance and repair works and giving new connections. Each transformer is being provided with an energy meter in a drive to locate power loss and power theft, if any. Transformer-field repair units too have started functioning, for preventive maintenance.
Under pre-monsoon maintenance, transformers are overhauled, their oil-level checked, damaged fuses and lead wires replaced and bushes tightened. Complaints, if any, must be intimated fast enough over the Trouble-Call Management System on the phone 1912. Seven jeeps have been located in different parts of the city for 24-hour duty.
The Board does not have hotline facility, which is used in metros. Using the hotline kit, repair work can be carried out sans switching off power supply.
The Board has no other option but to switch off the transformer when maintenance work is on. This means a wide area is affected.
The aim is to ensure the safety of linemen who are at work. Only by switching over to underground cables can this malady be overcome, officials said.