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MERC orders probe into power crisis

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MUMBAI, May 31

THE Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) has ordered an investigation into the recent power crisis in the State.

It has requested the Ministry of Power to direct the Central Electricity Authority to carry out a technical enquiry into the causes for the recent `unprecedented power crisis' and also to suggest concrete remedial measures to avoid occurrences of the same in the future. The report is expected within a month, said an MERC news release.

The enquiry should also identify the reasons for the unprecedented load- shedding carried out by the Maharashtra State Electricity Board (MSEB) in the State, the MERC said.

Over the last few days, several districts in Western Maharashtra as well as parts of Mumbai have faced electricity failure lasting several hours at a stretch. Load-shedding had been imposed in several districts with the Government stating that the situation would be rectified only in the first week of June.

The power crisis was on account of transmission line damage to the Chandrapur-Padghe line MSEB's network.

Meanwhile, the industry has expressed deep concern over the crisis. The Confederation of Indian Industry (western region) said the crisis would be a set back to the State as an industrial destination.

According to CII, the Government had ordered closure for industries during the day and this would hit a large number of industries. "Many of these units have been asked to be operational only in one shift which would reduce the productivity and raise the under-utilisation capacity of these units.''

The small-scale sector without any captive power generation capacity, would be the worst hit, and this would have a cascading effect on the big manufacturers, affecting production schedules and export commitments, the CII said.

Each day's delay in resolving the crisis would cause heavy loss to industry, said Mr Firdose Vandrevala, Chairman, CII, Western region, energy sub-committee. He said the Government should take the industry into confidence and share the reality of the situation so that industry can prepare itself to handle the crisis.

According to CII, the situation shows that Maharashtra was not well-equipped to handle power shortage and manage its peak demand. "The dislocation of the transmission system underlines the need to have an "alternate mechanism'' of drawing power and also the need to explore the potential of existing resources in the State.''

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