K R Gopi, who owns a paper machine manufacturing unit in Rabale, is busy working out a new roster for his employees. With the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Corporation Limited (MSEDCL) implementing a 40-hour power cut for industries in the state, this is the best he can do to keep his losses due to the unprecedented load shedding to a minimum.
z Laxmibai Tandel (78) cannot take a stroll these days. After a leg injury, she used to take the elevator from her eighth-floor residence in Razvi Plaza in Thane to reach the ground floor, and then go for a stroll in the garden with the help of her walker. The load shedding has put a stop to this routine. “Due to untimely load shedding she has stopped her regular stroll and due to her injured leg, she cannot climb eight floors,” says her son Ashok, who is in his early fifties.
Already suffering load shedding of six to nine hours every day, the MSEDCL’s decision to increase power cuts for industries to 40 hours a week has added to the misery of Thane and Navi Mumbai areas, which have a large number of small scale units.
The power utility’s decision has not gone down well with the residents and the owners of small-scale industries. “With 40 hours of load shedding, we are doomed. We are facing losses, but the increase in the load shedding hours means we have to cut down on our production. On other hand, we have to pay the interest on loans we have taken from banks and also pay our workers their salary,” says K R Gopi.
“Not all small-scale units can afford generators. A 100-kilowatt generator costs around Rs 8-9 lakh, but it requires some 80 litres of diesel every day which is simply unaffordable considering the alarming fuel prices,” adds Gopi, who is the chairman of Small Scale Entrepreneurs Association in Navi Mumbai that represents 4,000 small-scale units in Rabale, Turbhe, Pawne, Khairne, Turbhe and Shirawne industrial areas.
“There was respite from load shedding in Thane for some time, but it has started again. The problem is faced by some buildings which have elevators and but have not installed generators,” says Ashok Tandel.
Thane and Navi Mumbai along with three Mumbai suburbs — Bhandup, Mulund and Kanjurmarg — are currently facing six hours of load shedding every day. Though Bhandup, Mulund and Kanjurmarg are part of the Mumbai city, they get power from MSEDCL, and hence have to suffer power cuts. While Thane’s neighbouring suburbs like Mumbra and Kalwa are facing nine hours of load shedding, Kalyan and Dombivli are suffering power cuts ranging from eight to eight-and-half hours.
“The Thane circle — which covers Thane, Mulund, Bhandup, Kalwa and Mumbra — currently consumes 450 MW, but it needs an additional 120 MW to avoid load shedding,” says Ramesh Gholap, superintendent engineer (Thane circle), MSEDCL.
Load shedding had been discontinued in Thane, Bhandup, Mulund, Kanjurmarg and Navi Mumbai areas recently after protests by the residents on the ground that the rest of Mumbai was not subjected to power cuts. “The people here were charged 43 paise extra per unit for discontinuing load shedding. But since the entire state is facing a power crisis, even these areas will not escape load shedding,” says Gholap.
“Load shedding is implemented according to the areas and the losses incurred by the power utility. The areas are divided into four categories as per the losses. Higher the losses and the incidents of power thefts, longer will be the load shedding duration,” says another MSEDCL official.