As the temperature almost hit 50 degrees Celsius in many parts of India, power outages continue for three in five households for over a month of the heatwave, and people are now demanding solutions. Households cite poorly governed and managed power departments, poor supply infrastructure and maintenance, and corruption as top reasons for power outages in their area.
Almost 53% of households in India never get any notification from their power department or company in advance about power outages, shows a survey conducted by LocalCircles.
According to the ministry of power, electricity demand in India surged to a record high late-last week and is set to rise by as much as 8% next month. Power supply fell short of demand by 1.88bn (billion) units during the first 27 days of April, a report says.
LocalCircles says that such a shortage is being seen when the states and Union Territories (UTs) have been witnessing a soaring heatwave. The temperature in India's national capital was recorded at 48 degrees Celsius.
In Gujarat, the rise in temperatures has prompted the government to issue an advisory to hospitals to set up special wards for heat stroke and other heat-related diseases. Several states, including Rajasthan, Haryana and Andhra Pradesh are also observing the worst power cuts, ranging from two hours to eight hours.
Delhi, in April, witnessed its peak power demand surge at 6000 megawatts (MW). In Gurugram, the shortage has resulted in four to six hours of a cumulative power outage. Similarly, Uttar Pradesh (UP) has a 3,000MW deficit against the demand of around 23,000MW. Andhra Pradesh is facing a shortfall of about 50mn (million) units of power, against the demand. Bihar is also facing a power deficit of 200MW-300MW per day.
It also sought to understand some of the root causes behind these power outages. The survey received more than 35,000 responses from citizens across 344 districts of India.
3 in 5 households in India confirm facing power outages amidst heatwave and high temperatures; 1 in 5 are facing outages of over 2 hours a day
The first question in the survey asked citizens, "On average, how many hours of a power outage (from the power department/ company) are you experiencing each day at your home?" In response, 38% of citizens said they are 'not facing any outage'. However, 29% are facing power outage for 'up to 2 hours', 12% said '2-4 hours', 5% said '4-8 hours', 2% said '8-12 hours'. About 13% said, 'don't know because we have 24x7 power backup', while 1% could not say anything.
"On an aggregate basis, three in five households in India confirm facing power outages amidst heatwave and high temperatures; one in five are facing outages of over two hours or more each day," LocalCircles says.
While the power outage improves slightly for some Indian households, 3 in 5 are still struggling amidst a massive heatwave
In the survey, 34% of households in April said they were 'not facing any outage'. This percentage has increased slightly to 38% in the survey conducted in May. Meanwhile, households facing outage up to two hours has increased from 28% in April to 29% in May.
On the other hand, households facing outage up to two to four hours has decreased from 18% to 12%, and those facing outage up to eight to 12 hours has also come down from 10% in April to 5% in May.
Notably, the percentage of households who have 24x7 power back-up has increased from 6% in April to 13% in May. Overall, while the power outage improves slightly for some Indian households, three in five are still struggling amidst a massive heatwave, LocalCircles says.
Households cite poorly governed and managed power departments, poor supply infrastructure and maintenance along with corruption as top reasons for power outages in their area
The next question asked citizens about what all, according to them, are the key reasons for the power outage in their area or district.
In response, 22% said 'not enough supply capacity', 55% said 'poorly governed and managed power department/ utility company', 28% said 'power thefts', 48% said 'poor supply infrastructure and its maintenance', 13% said 'hot weather', 35% said 'corruption', and 7% cited 'other reasons'. Around 3% could not say anything.
Respondents were permitted to select multiple causes for the outages in their area. On an aggregate basis, the survey shows that households cite poorly governed and managed power departments, poor supply infrastructure and maintenance, and corruption as top reasons for power outages in their area.
53% of households in India never get any notification from their power department/company in advance about power outages
One of the issues people raised regarding power outages is the need for power departments or companies sharing information in advance, which, according to many citizens, does not happen. Advance information about outages allows people to plan their essential tasks and cope with the outages a bit better.
The next question asked citizens, "when there is a power outage in your area, do you get notified by the power department/ company in advance about power outages?"
In response, the majority, 53% of citizens said 'they never notify, ever'. About 29% said they 'sometime get an SMS or phone call or email', and 6% said 'sometimes the local power department staff notifies'.
Only 10% said they 'always get an SMS or phone call or email', while 2% could not say anything. This question received 11,673 responses.
Overall, LocalCircles says, 53% of households said they never ever receive any notification in advance about a power outage in their area.
"In comparison to a previous survey conducted last month in April, the findings indicate that though the power outage situation has improved slightly for some Indian households, three in five are still struggling amidst this massive heatwave. All in all, a dire situation for people and one that highlights the urgent need for reforming governance in state and local power departments and companies associated with the same," LocalCircles concludes.