As a result of the drought in 1979, the Indian economy received a severe jolt. All of a sudden it was reported that there was acute power-famine. There was a wide gap between demand for electricity and its supply. Power cuts were imposed for long periods. To conserve electricity, market timings were changed from 8 A.M. to 7 P.M. Electricity was not supplied to consumers for several hours every day. Power-cuts were imposed even on industrial concerns, resulting in a slackening of the pace of industrial production. Enough of electricity was not available even for agricultural purposes.
Various factors contributed to this acute power-famine. For one thing, generation of electricity had not kept pace with the increase in consumption. During the course of time, people had become more and more electricity minded, there had been industrial expansion on an unprecedented scale, and more electricity was being used for running the tube-wells and for other agricultural purpose. The people were also to blame. They did not-realize that electricity is a national asset and should be conserved and used with care. They were wasteful and extravagant in their use of this essential commodity. Several generators which had been in use over the long period.
Of twenty-five years urgently needed repairs and over-hauling. Some of them become unserviceable, and were thrown out of production. The strike of electricity engineers, ‘go-slow tactics’ of other categories of workers, sabotage at places, all contributed to the crisis.
However it would have been possible to overcome all such difficulties. But the matters worsened and crisis was precipitated by the failure of rains once again over large parts of the country in 1987. For three years in continuation, drought conditions prevailed in most of the northern states. Water in dams and reservoirs dried up and generators could not work. Water fell below the required label even in Bhakra Nagal Dam. As the government had been depending, to a very great extent, on hydro-electricity it could do nothing to mend the situation. The people were put to great hardships and pace of production slowed down.
If India is to go ahead with industrialization and, if possible, more rapidly still, and to increase agricultural production, rural electrification is a must. The gap between the generation of electricity and the demand for it is bound to widen. The demand from domestic consumers also is bound to increase and become more pressing with the passing of time.
Therefore, the power-famine must be tackled on an emergency basis. Small industrial concerns, cinema houses, hospitals, big educational institutions, etc., have already installed their own generators. This is not for the government is ready to advance loans for the purpose and such generators are now being manufactured in the country.
Hydro-electricity alone cannot solve the problem. So nuclear energy should be increasingly used to produce electricity. Electricity from nuclear energy is both cheaper and much larger in quantity. Nuclear power stations, as those at Trombay and Kotah, can alone go a long way towards the solution of this problem. One such power- station has been set up at narora near aligarh, and many more should be set up in different parts of the country. As a nuclear-power station takes more than seven year to go into production, the work should be taken in hand without delay. Alternate sources of energy such as solar energy, bio-gas, should also be explored. Thermal power-plants should also be explored. Thermal power-plants should also be set up.
We are happy to note that the government is quite alive to the problem, and due attention is being paid to it. During the sixth plan period four more nuclear power stations were set up in different parts of the country. Generation of electricity was given top priority in the seventh plan. Several more nuclear power stations were set up. In 8th plan due priority to power generation has also been given. The ninth five year plan has also lain due emphasis on developing conventional and non-convention sources of energy.
But the cooperation of the people is also essential to solve the problem. It is our national duty to avoid wastage and conserve electricity.