UPCL likely to solve power failure issues by February 52 min read
Manipal: “Keeping the needs of the people in mind, we are going to try our best to get the coal in by Monday (February 4) and the power running by Tuesday (February 5),” said Kishore Alva, Vice President (Corporate Affairs) of the Udupi Power Corporation Limited (UPCL) on February 2, ensuring that the frequent power cuts in the south Karnataka region will soon come to an end.
Almost 25 percent of the state’s electricity is produced by UPCL, putting a large strain on the power plants. The power plant situated in Padubidri provides for most of Dakshin Kannada’s electricity. Owing to the lack of coal that produces electricity in this power plant, the region has been experiencing frequent power cuts for the last few weeks.
Explaining the working of the company, Ashok Kundapur, an environmentalist from Manipal informs that the UPCL has a coal based power plant. This means that it generates its electricity by burning coal. When this power plant was coming up, locals had raised issues regarding the ill-effects of coal on the environment, stating that local coal will produce a lot of pollution. Keeping the plight of the environmentalist and locals in mind, UPCL operates on imported coal which is almost twice as expensive as local coal.
According to Alva, keeping up with the cost of imported coal isn’t an easy task. Importing coal from South Africa, Australia and Indonesia is an expensive affair. Alva explained, “UPCL isn’t able to produce the required power because the government hasn’t paid the company the amount they owe for the electricity and hence the company isn’t able to afford the imported coal it runs on.” But in order to do what is right for the people, UPCL plans to bare the expenses and continue importing coal to produce the needed power.
However, according to organisations like the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS), Janajagriti Samiti Shashidhar and Traditional Boat Fishermen’s Association, UPCL charges hiked prices for electricity and hence are indebted to the government, not the other way around as Alva claims.
“The UPCL have gathered around 500 crores rupees worth of debts in the last few years. Mostly owing to their lack of licences and other illegal transactions they have indulged in including selling a unit power to the state government at Rs.3.13, when according to the Power purchase agreement (PPA) a unit of power should be priced at Rs.2.25,” said Vijay Kumar Hegde, State Vice President of KRRS.
Sub-edited by Bhavani Seetharaman