Increasing public anger and bitter criticism from all quarters prompted state energy minister Pranab Prakash Das to indulge in a damage control exercise over the load shedding issue by stating that power cuts will continue till next month.
Das had to eat his words in the wake of severe criticism and allegations from several quarters including experts in the energy sector and Opposition political parties. Earlier last week, Das had announced that power regulation will continue till June 2016 in view of the shortage in generation. The power cut ranged from two to four hours daily.
Shocked by such an outrageous announcement, people across the state had reacted saying never before had any government announced power cuts for nine months. The Congress and BJP came down heavily on the Naveen Patnaik government and alleged that the move was aimed at benefiting private power generators who sell high cost power to other states.
Today, Das told reporters that the hours of power cut has been reduced already and by October, the situation will improve. He even hinted that there would be no regulation during Durga Puja.
Das was found searching for an answer when asked how the situation had dramatically improved from a grave crisis last week. He did not concede that the rains caused by the low pressure had improved the water level in reservoirs for hydro power generation. Das tried to say that power from other sources had improved and the state has already received 100 mw from one such source.
The gap between generation and supply was over 500 MW during peak demand hours in the state.
The BJP alleged that the government wanted to sell power to other states and earn money. It also pointed out that the government was helping private generators by not purchasing cheap power from them and allowing them to sell the same at high profits to other states.
There is a hidden agenda,noted BJP state president KV Singh Deo, a charge that was promptly denied by Das.
Congress leader Niranjan Patnaik said the incompetence of the government stands exposed. For 16 years the BJD government has not added a single megawatt to the power generation and the transmission and distribution loss continues to be as high as 40 percent.
Das rebutted the charges saying the government has set a target of reducing the transmission and distribution loss to 20 per cent in four years time.
He alleged that the Central government had not provided a single penny over the last decade to the state to help strengthen the power sector.