Ministry of Power appoints expert committee to go deep into reasons for grid failure: Moily


New Delhi, August 1, 2012: Union Power Minister V Moily , on taking over the charge of Ministry of Power , assured the nation of full security and sustainabililty of the Power Grid.

Speaking to mediapersons in the capital today , he assured that the reasons for the collapse would be thoroughly looked into and workable solutions found. As a first step, the Ministry of Power has appointed an expert committee to go deep into the reasons for the grid failure. The Centre will shortly hold talks with Chief Ministers of the affected states in order to sort out issues and look for solutions to prevent such a crisis from repeating. Placed below is the text of the Power Minister’s brief to the media.

“There have been disturbances in the Grid on 30th July and 31st July, 2012 which affected major parts of the Northern, Eastern and North Eastern Grids. On 30th July, a disturbance occurred in Northern Region Grid at 0235 hours, which led to failure of power in almost the entire Northern Region states (8) of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, NCT of Delhi and Chandigarh Union Territory. The Northern Grid was meeting a load of nearly 35,000 MW prior to the disturbance. Restoration work was taken up immediately and essential services like Railways, Metro Rail and Airports were restored by 8.00 a.m. on 30th July and the whole system was fully restored by 4.00 p.m.

However, a similar disturbance at 1.00 p.m. on 31 July, 2012 led to collapse of Northern, Eastern and North Eastern electricity grid affecting a consumer load of nearly 55,000 MW. During this disturbance Western Region and Southern Region were not affected. Power supply was restored within 2 hours i.e. by 3.30 p.m. to all emergency and essential services such as Railways, Metro rail, Mines and Airports. Near normalcy in all the three grids affected by this disturbance was restored by 8.00 p.m. on 31st July itself. The Grid is now functioning normally and a close watch is being kept.

He said the most important task on hand for him is to take all essential steps required to sustain the electricity grid that suffered unprecedented failure over the last two days. Although the grid was brought back into operation with great speed we need to take remedial measures to prevent the recurrence of disruption of such a magnitude. He added he has asked for an immediate review of the transfer capability of inter-regional and other critical links within 24 hours and impose restrictions that the safety and security of the grid demands. Maintaining grid discipline at all costs is of vital importance for all of us. This requires the cooperation of all the constituents, most of all the State Governments that are primarily responsible for ensuring consumer satisfaction. On its part the Centre in order to ensure the integrity of the system will take all necessary commercial and technical measures, including increasing congestion charges and curbing overdrawls.

Further, he said he has asked the Committee set up by the Ministry of Power to also look into any weak links in the inter-regional power transmission system that need to be strengthened and directed that the work of strengthening be taken up on war footing. Further measures to avoid recurrence of such events as per recommendations of the Committee shall be taken in due course forthwith. With the above measures, he is confident that the unfortunate incidents will not recur, he assured.

He said he is aware that there is a need to increase capacity addition to meet the growing electricity demand of the consumers. In the last year of the 11th Plan, they achieved a record capacity addition of 20,500 MW which is equal to what used to be achieved in one full Five Year Plan. In the XI Plan, they achieved a capacity addition of nearly 55,000 MW which is 2 1/2 times the achievement in any Five Year Plan. He said he intend to keep up this momentum in generation of capacity addition and further step it up to achieve the increased target of more than 80,000 MW during the XII Plan. “I recognise that this would require firmer fuel supply arrangement than hitherto indicated and I am confident that with the efforts and cooperation of Ministry of Coal, the situation would improve and bankable Fuel Supply Agreements would be signed”, he said. He added he might inform that in the first year of the 12th Plan, the achievement so far has been 6216 MW against a target of nearly 16,000 MW (excluding nuclear).

The minister said among the other challenges before the power sector today is the financial health of the Distribution Companies that need to be remedied for the long term sustainability of the sector. “I am told that the Distribution Companies, particularly in some states, are under huge financial stress and my endeavour would be to quickly finalise a debt restructuring scheme which is at present under inter-Ministerial consultations”, he said, adding he would seek the cooperation of the State Governments in taking long term measures, even if they appear stiff, for turning around the distribution utilities so that they could serve the consumers better. For this, apart from taking several other measures, State Distribution Companies will have to launch a campaign to reduce the AT&C losses.

Adding, he said these measures would include both technical as well as managerial steps such as balancing of HT and LT load, metering of all distribution transformers and consumers, bifurcation of agriculture and domestic feeders in their rural areas, setting up of special courts and police stations and taking strict action against unauthorized drawal of electricity. Special attention will have to be paid by some regions and states where the loss levels are very high.

Further, he said as far as the regions are concerned, while the All India average AT&C losses were 27.15% in 2009-10, the Southern Region had an average of 19.49%, whereas the North-Eastern Region had 36.44% loss. Similarly, some of the states have loss levels as high as 70% while others have managed to bring down their losses to single digit level. In order to assist the States in strengthening their infrastructure, Govt. of India has already operationalized the New Electricity Fund. He said he propose to extend the coverage under the R-APDRP scheme to include more towns so that their power distribution system can be modernised and their distribution losses brought down to 15%.

The minister also said one of the highest priorities that he would like to attach is to fulfilling the government’s commitment in ensuring energy for All. Under the Rajiv Gandhi Gramin VidyutikaranYojana, already 1.05 lac unelectrified villages have been covered and 1.97 crore BPL households provided free electricity connections. The balance from the Phase 1 of the programme, namely, 6000 odd villages and about 35 lakh BPL families will be completed this year itself. It would be his endeavour to persuade the Planning Commission to provide adequate funds to cover all the remaining habitations in the XII Plan, he reveals.