While the number of electricity complaints on a daily basis has increased from average 500-600 to 1,300-1,400 in Ludhiana central zone, extra power staff which is normally provided on a contract basis in paddy season is yet to join duties. Perhaps this is the reason for slow redressal of complaints, non-responsive complaint centres and even staff on duty misbehaving with the complainants.
The Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) had been providing staff on a contract basis in paddy season for the past three-four years in the entire state to ease the workload, but this year no contract staff has joined in Ludhiana. However, staff has already joined from June 1 onward in Jalandhar, Amritsar and Bathinda. Chief Engineer Rachpal Singh said, “The contract staff is expected to join in a day or two and we have sought about 500 such people. Otherwise, to cater to the rush, we have deployed our maintenance staff as well in the field.”
Ruling out any delay in redressal of complaints, Singh said that weather was unpredictable these days and, therefore, the problem increased in a few areas. “Otherwise, our men are working more than their capacity,” he added.
Power woes are the maximum in Haibowal area where residents stage dharnas on a daily basis. The chief engineer maintained that a 20MVA new transformer was being installed in that area to solve frequent trippings.
Dharnas were also held on ESI road and in Jawahar Camp area on Thursday. The chief engineer added, “The masses are also responsible to some extent as they have not declared their load and this has created a gap between demand and supply. Voluntary disclosure scheme (VDS) is going on till June 30 and till than we cannot check connections of anyone. Hence, we appeal to consumers to declare their load so that we can do augmentations, if any, in a particular area.”
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However, unscheduled cuts have become the order of the day in residential as well as industrial areas. Various industrial associations have asked the PSPCL to impose scheduled cuts, rather than causing a continuous loss to their businesses. On Thursday, tripping occurred for about eight times each lasting a minimum of 20 minutes in Focal Point, which is designated industrial area of Ludhiana. Apart from this, unscheduled cuts in mixed land use areas and residential areas stretch to at least five-six hours on a daily basis apart from night trippings.
Gurmeet Singh Kular, president of Federation of Industrial and Commercial Organisation, said, “Rather than switching off power supply repeatedly, we are ready to bear scheduled cuts.”