Hyderabad: Andhra Pradesh is facing an unprecedented power crisis as a direct result of the ongoing indefinite general strike by Telangana protagonists.

The gap between power demand and supply has widened to 50 million units (MU) per day at present with the demand touching a peak of 275 MU because of continued dry spell in the state.

During the corresponding period last year, the demand for power was only 223 MU.

Consequently, heavy power cuts are being imposed across sectors in the state with industries and agriculture being the worst hit. While the duration of power shutdown in urban areas is four hours, it is six hours in district headquarters and about ten hours in rural areas.

The government-run Power Transmission Corporation of AP has officially declared a three-day 'power holiday' to industries in the state while it is finding it difficult to ensure seven-hour power supply to the agriculture sector even as reports have come in from districts like Nalgonda, Ranga
Reddy and Mahbubnagar in Telangana region that crops have started withering due to non-availability of power.

Thermal power generation at AP Power Generation Corporation's units in the state has now fallen to 3,000 MW as against the installed capacity of 5,093 MW.

The strike in Singareni Collieries coal fields since September 13 as part of the general strike in Telangana, has reduced coal production to 36,700 tonnes per day as against the normal 1.5 lakh tonnes. This has left the thermal power stations dry, leading to severe shortfall in production, according to member Secretary of AP Energy Co-ordination Cell , A Chandrasekhar Reddy.

The National Thermal Power Corporation's unit at Ramagundam in Karimnagar district has been forced to shut down one of its units, resulting in a loss of 500 MW.

The total loss of thermal power due to severe coal deficit is around 56 MU per day (38 MU from AP Genco stations and 18 MU from NTPC's Ramagundam and Simhadri units).

The gas-based power stations are working to only 75 per cent of their plant load factor and generating 36 MU, he said.

Hydel power generation that peaked to 65 MU early last month, due to heavy inflow of flood water into major reservoirs like Srisailam, has now come down to just 39 MU as inflows ceased.

With the Telangana protagonists making it clear that the indefinite general strike would continue till the Government of India conceded the demand for creation of a separate state, the state government has decided to purchase 980 MW of power from external sources to tide-over the crisis this month.

"The problem is even if we want to buy power from the open market, it is not readily available. Our main concern is to ensure that required power is supplied to the agriculture sector and save the standing Kharif crops," Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy pointed out.

He has directed Transco officials to increase the duration of power cuts in urban areas, if required, and supply adequate power to the farms.

The Energy Co-ordination Cell, on the other hand, issued an appeal to people today asking them not to use air-conditioners to reduce power consumption and also conserve energy through other means and "co-operate with the power utilities to overcome the present situation."

(Agencies)