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Power crisis in North-east India

India's north-east region has been hit by a severe power crisis for a week following collapse of vital power transmission towers, prolonged dry spells and falling water levels in rivers and reservoirs, a Tripura minister said.

"Major power transmission towers collapsed at two locations near Alipurdwar in West Bengal on the 400kV Binnaguri (West Bengal)-Bongaigaon (in western Assam) double circuits due to a heavy storm and squalls May 3," Tripura Power Minister Manik Dey told reporters.

He said that the 400kV towers connect and transmit electricity to the power starved northeastern region from the Eastern Regional power grid in West Bengal.

The state-owned Power Grid Corporation of India Limited in a statement said that it expected to 'restore this crucial transmission line by May 15 on permanent basis'.

According to the minister, the situation further deteriorated when a major technical snag developed on May 8 in the alternative two numbers of 220kV transmission circuits between Birpara (West Bengal) and Salakati (Assam).

These substitute transmission lines had fed power supply from the Eastern Regional grid to the Northeastern Regional grid.

"Most of the hydel power projects in the north-eastern region have either stopped power production or reduced generation to a large extent due to severe scarcity of water in their reservoirs, making the situation worse," Dey said.

An official of the Tripura State Electricity Corporation told IANS that the rainfall was much less than normal in the last monsoon and during the pre-monsoon season this year.

"Hence the water level in reservoirs of the power projects has gone down significantly, severely affecting their power generation capacity," the official added.

He warned that the situation might deteriorate further if the region did not receive rain within the next few days.

The Tripura Power Minister said: "The demand and power supply gap ranges between 60-70 percent in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura and Sikkim".

"The electricity demand has risen by 25-30 percent due to soaring temperatures coupled with high humidity," the minister said.

The peak hours demand of power in the northeast region is around 2,200MW.

Dey said that since May 4, inclement weather has severely affected the power supply in Tripura too.

According to government estimates, the loss to power infrastructure in the region is to the tune of around INR3 crore.