Durgapur based state owned power utility company Durgapur Project Limited (DPL) which is already grappling with glitches has been hit once again after suspected thieves snapped a high-tension cable yesterday morning. This has resulted in frequent power cuts affecting not only the people of Durgapur but productions at several Durgapur factories as well.
DPL, which has been buying power from the West Bengal State Electricity Transmission Company Limited (WBSETCL) since production stopped on December 31, has already “rationalised” supply to bulk consumers such as factories. But after the early morning theft attempt yesterday several factories in Durgapur, most of whom manufacture iron, steel and alloys, have been forced to either stop or reduce production substantially.
The 132KV cable that was cut by the thieves used to carry power through one of the two DPL transformers. The snapped cable used to cater to the 160MVA transformer, through which power bought from WBSETCL reaches the DPL plant and is supplied to bulk consumers like industrial units.
The thieves, who steal copper cables for the metal, left the booty and fled apparently because they suffered a shock after coming in contact with the live wire.
A DPL official said power supply to domestic consumers was not affected because the cable running through the other
transformer had not been touched. However there were reports of intermittent power cuts from several localities of Durgapur where DPL supplies power.
DPL has lodged a police complaint and has started work to replace the cable as soon as possible. It will take three-four days to replace the cable.
Meanwhile a DPL official reported: “We have started producing electricity in an old unit that had been lying idle for the past few years because of cost overrun. Unit 3 is producing 47MW, which is being supplied to industrial units to meet a portion of the requirement.”
DPL had not generated electricity in the past 20 days because of a snag in two modern units and cost overrun-related production freeze in three old ones. Engineers of private companies are repairing the two new units and the job will take more time to get completed.
DPL supplies 220MW a day to Durgapur in winter. Of this, 150MW is consumed by industrial units. Unit heads at several Durgapur factories have complained of severe power cuts affecting production.
A security official at DPL said: “The power suddenly went off around 1.30am on Sunday. As soon as we came to know about the theft attempt, we rushed to the spot and found the cable had been snapped. The thieves could not take away the cable as they probably suffered injuries after coming in contact with the live cable.”
The INTUC and CITU unions at DPL alleged that several posts of security guards had been lying vacant for long.
“Frequent thefts of cables are taking place because of shortage of guards. There have been four thefts of cables in the past one month. The plant is supposed to be a high-security zone. DPL has 275 guards, against the sanctioned strength of 450. Of the 275, 188 have been hired from private agencies,” said Dibyendu Banerjee, the general secretary of the INTUC-affiliated trade union at DPL. CITU’s Naren Sikdar echoed him.
DPL sources said the company could not recruit guards because of a cash crunch.