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Delhi power crisis: Congress accuses Piyush Goyal of ‘passing the buck’

LiveMint logoLiveMint 10-06-2014 Tommy Wilkes

New Delhi: Accusing the government of “passing the buck” on the issue of acute power crisis in Delhi, Congress on Tuesday said there is a “limit to the honeymoon period” which allows the new dispensation to do this. Earlier in the day, power minister Piyush Goyal said residents in Delhi should brace for more power cuts amid scorching summer heat, warning that dilapidated power grids could not cope with the extra electricity needed to meet demand.

Rejecting Goyal’s charge that Delhi is suffering because of the “inaction of the previous government”, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said, “There is a limit to which the honeymoon period allows you to pass the buck on the previous government.” He also said that for quite some time, there had been no Congress government in Delhi.

Singhvi said it’s time the new government takes the bull by its horns and solve the problem rather than keep passing the buck. “It’s time they get rid of the syndrome of passing the buck and redress the challenges like grown-up people,” Singhvi said.

North India has endured a heatwave in the last week, with temperatures in some parts of Delhi reaching a 62-year high. The surge in demand from residents cranking up their air conditioning, and damage to power lines during a recent storm, has overwhelmed the grid, sparking outages across North India and forcing Delhi to introduce emergency power-saving measures.

Piyush Goyal, minister of state for power, coal, and new and renewable energy, said “inadequate” transmission lines meant Delhi could absorb 400 megawatts of power on top of its existing 5,300 MW, falling short of current peak demand of 5,800 MW.

“Clearly the power grid as it stands today is outdated, needs augmentation and modernisation and may repeatedly have outages and tripping problems,” he told a press conference after meeting with local power officials.

Goyal also announced the government’s decision to divert natural gas from Dabhol power plant in Maharashtra to generation stations in the national capital to help produce an additional 218 MW of electricity.

Three weeks after winning a national election on pledges to boost the economy and improve basic services, Prime Minister Narendra Modi faces a big challenge meeting the growing demands for reliable and affordable power and water.

In Uttar Pradesh, where less than half of homes have power, angry locals set electricity substations on fire and took power company officials hostage at the weekend in protest at the recent blackouts, media reports said.

Goyal said engineers in Delhi were working 24 hours a day to fix broken lines, while the government has ordered Gail India Ltd to provide extra gas to a huge plant near the city functioning at a fifth of its capacity.

PTI contributed to this story.

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