Shortage of gas in Mumbai behind power cuts

Vol 7, PW 1 (26 Mar 03) Midstream & Downstream

MAHARASHTRA IS no different from other Indian states.

It never receives the amount of gas it is "allocated" by Delhi because, like in the rest of India, demand far outstrips supply. Like others Maharashtra regularly petitions Shastri Bhawan for more gas while painting a bleak picture of its condition.

Shinde's February letter to Naik is a classic example. "Maharashtra has been facing an acute shortage of power in recent months because of which load shedding has to be resorted and at times it has been in excess of 10-12 hours a day," he writes.

"A high powered standing committee of the state constituted to consider all options to increase generation and supply of power has identified the shortfall in supply of gas by GAIL to the Uran Gas Turbine Power Station as a critical area of concern." Shinde reminds Naik that the central government had committed 4.5m cm/d gas to the Uran power station before it was set up but that in reality it receives only 2.5m cm/d gas. "You had been kind enough to enhance the average supply of gas from 2.5m cm/d to 3m cm/d recently, but the actual increase is only 0.2m cm/d." Shinde wants a further increase by 0.3m cm/d so that the total increase can add up to the promised 3m cm/d.

"Our officers are in constant touch with GAIL but so far the promised increase of 0.5m cm/d has not been effected." Shastri Bhawan is unconvinced and feels Shinde has got his numbers wrong. "The figures quoted by Maharashtra are incorrect," we learn.

"The actual increase to them works out to between 0.4 and 0.5m cm/d." Shastri Bhawan also feels that Maharashtra has no reason to complain. "Other states get only between 60% and 66% of their gas allocation but Maharashtra State Electricity Board gets much more," we learn.

"MSEB is saved from the heavy cuts faced by other states. The supply cut to MSEB is not pro-rata."