History Of Growth
The first decade of the 20th century witnessed the advent of electricity in Puducherry. The Municipality in Pondicherry was authorized by the Arrête of 6 June 1908 to raise a loan of Rs. 64,000 from the Cassie De Secours Mutuels Des Macouas so as to enable it to take steps to provide electricity to the town. A 524 KW DC powerhouse was set up by the municipality and went into operation in the year 1909. The Powerhouse was provided with diesel motors that produced an uninterrupted current at 220 Volts and the Pondicherry Town received its first Power supply from 14 July 1909. The DC power produced by this unit was sufficient for lighting the Governor’s residence, some offices and a few houses in Rue Dumas and Rue Capucin. In view of some difficulty by the Pondicherry Municipality to run the unit, a subvention of Rs 2,000 has been granted to the Municipality during 1920 to run the undertaking. However, in 1929 the responsibility for running the unit came to vest with the Service De Travaux Publics (Public Works Department).
The very next year a decree was passed to regulate the system of power distribution in the town. In spite of all efforts, the undertaking did not prove very successful. Moreover, the electricity produced was hardly sufficient to meet the requirements of the whole town and the three mills. In 1941 this unit was replaced with two diesel generating sets of 375 KVA each. The power from this station was initially extended to the southern part of Pondicherry town and later to the entire town.
Following World War II, railway traffic was completely dislocated. Moreover, with the appearance of the Japanese fleet, the import of coal to Pondicherry was disrupted affecting the working of the mills. For want of coal, one mill was constrained to close down for two months. The shortage of mazut affected the irrigation works. All these brought the Territory towards the brink of an economic crisis which led to some rethinking on the part of the Administration as to the course to be adopted to meet the power famine. On 29 May 1942, the Administration sent a note to the British Government explaining the then prevailing situation in the region for their consideration. In September 1942, Colonel Platts, Chief of Electricity Department of the Madras Presidency paid a visit to Pondicherry to study the situation. After visiting the three textile mills and the municipal power house, he come to the conclusion that the Pondicherry’s power requirements would be more than what had been asked for and recommended the installation of a high tension line for the supply of power from British India. Under a 10-Year agreement, the British Government agreed to supply power of a total quantity of at least 500 KW with scope for increasing it later. The line was brought during 1944 until the border on the right bank of river Gingee. The supply was effected on 2nd January 1944 and was availed from a supply point at Tiruvandarkovil. The power was brought by a 22 KV feeder from the Sub-Station at Villupuram, although there was scope in the agreement for increasing it to 66 KV.
In 1945, the Pondicherry colony was authorized to build its own power supply network with high tension power to the textile mills in the town and the pumping station and low tension power for agricultural purposes. At the same time, the running of the undertaking was entrusted to a Board of Management which consisted of four members, besides the Director of Public Works Department who became its permanent member. The Board met at least once in a month and was empowered to frame rules for the internal administration of the undertaking, recruitment of staff, execution of major works, etc. The Director was required to prepare an annual statement of receipts and expenditure which was to be voted by the Board and approved by the Governor. The Tresorier-payeur (Treasury) looked after the accounts.
In 1946 the demand stood at 300 KW on DC and 1,800 KW on AC. The demand further increased to 2,000 KVA by 1953. The 10-year agreement was due to expire on 31st December 1953. In the meanwhile, the Madras Government expressed its inability to continue supply after 1st January 1954. The French Administration had in the meanwhile started the construction of a thermal power station of 4,900 KW. The power station was commissioned in May 1951. The station consisted of three second-hand steam generating sets with oil fired boilers. The water for cooling the condensers was brought in from the sea through pipes. This Generating Station was located in the place where the Central Stores now exists in the main office campus of the Electricity Department.
The Madras Government further issued a directive to Regie De l’ Electricite (Department of Electricity) to dismantle its sub-transmission lines running across Madras State from one French enclave to another. However, as merger of the Pondicherry Territory with the Indian Union took place within a few months, the directive was not executed.
Soon after merger, Electricity was restored to Pondicherry from the Madras State. The operation and maintenance of Electrical installations in the establishments was facilitated by the extension of the Indian Electricity Act, 1910 and the Electricity (Supply) Act, 1948 with effect from 1 November 1954. But the main issue that cropped up soon after, related to the purchase of the power house as Article 22 of 1954 French-India agreement provided for the transfer of the power station to the Indian Government on payment. In 1955 the Administration was authorized by the Ministry of External Affairs to purchase the power house for Rs 22.70Lakhs. Since then all operations connected with the distribution of Electricity in Pondicherry and Karaikal regions became part of the responsibility of the Administration. This led to the formation of the Directorate of Electricity by the arrête of 23 July 1956. The total assets were valued at Rs 39.30Lakhs as on 1st January 1954.
Although the thermal station had an installed capacity of 2,500 KW, it actually produced only 1,200 KW due to the insufficient capacity of boilers used. It was hardly sufficient to meet the growing demand for power in the region. Moreover, it was found that it would involve heavy capital expenditure to improve the power station to its full capacity of 5,000 KW. Hence arrangements were made to get the whole quantum of power required from the neighboring state of Tamil Nadu.
Soon after merger which marked the penultimate year of the Ist Five-Year plan, more villages were electrified, more agricultural pump sets were energized and power supplied to more LT industries. Some parts of the town were till then fed by DC power. Hence the change over from DC to AC was also undertaken during this period. The demand for power rose from 1,600 KW in 1953 to 2,200 KW by march 1956.
As part of the IInd Five-Year plan, the Government embarked on a Programme of urban and rural electrification at a total cost of Rs 53.00Lakhs. The supply of power which was effected through a 22 KV line from the Villupuram Sub-Station was not sufficient to cater to the additional load. Hence a scheme was drawn up for providing a 66 KV line from Villupuram to Pondicherry to feed a 66/22 KV sub-station at Villiyanur with a capacity of 10 MW. The Sub-station at Villiyanur provided with two 5,000 KVA capacity power transformers was erected by the Government of Tamil Nadu and commissioned early in September 1957.
In 1961, the Government of India conveyed its decision to treat the set-up as a commercial undertaking within the meaning of article 59 of the Accounts Code, with effect from 1 April 1961, thus necessitating the preparation of proforma accounts. In fact the Electricity (Supply) Act, 1948 provides for the setting up of autonomous bodies to carry on the generation, supply and distribution of electricity in the country. However, on 25 March 1967 this Territory was granted exemption from the said provisions of the law. The exemption which was valid until 31st March 1972 was further extended until 31st March 1977 enabling the operations to be carried on departmentally.
Under the IIIrd Five-Year Plan, all the 267 census villages in Pondicherry region were electrified. However since Pondicherry region was at the tail-end of the supply lines from Tamil Nadu, the incoming voltage and the power factor were very low. This affected the voltage regulation and also increased the maximum demand of the system. In order to set right this factor, the Government embarked on a scheme to erect suitable static condensers and voltage regulators and oil circuit breakers for the feeders at an estimated cost of Rs 7.00Lakhs under the IIIrd Five-Year plan. A second point of supply at Manamedu in Bahour was commissioned in March 1963. This point was fed by a 22 KV line from Panruti Sub-Station. Although the entire requirement of power was obtained from Tamil Nadu, the AC power house in Pondicherry was retained as a stand by to meet emergencies of power shortage. However, in July 1963 the old power plant with an effective capacity of 1,000 KW was condemned and auctioned.
The power demand in Pondicherry region was estimated to reach 25,000 KVA by the end of the IIIrd Five-Year Plan. As the capacity of the Villiyanur Sub-Station was found inadequate to cope up with the growing demand, a proposal to upgrade the 66/22 KV sub-station to 110 KV with a capacity of 30,000 KVA was included in the IIIrd Five-Year plan. The Government of Tamil Nadu also agreed to release an additional 10 MW by extending a 110 KV line from Neyveli to Panruti and then to Pondicherry through a 110 KV line to meet the increasing power requirements of Pondicherry. Accordingly,the construction of the 110 KV line from Panruti to Villiyanur and the construction of the 110/22 KV sub-station with three transformers of 10 MVA capacity was completed in November 1968.
An additional 22 KV feeder from Villiyanur sub-station to Pondicherry was laid and energized in February 1968. This arrangement minimized the interruption of power supply and ensured better voltage conditions in Pondicherry town.
Under the IVth Five-Year plan, the Electrification of all the census villages in the Territory was achieved much ahead of schedule. The Government then embarked on the implementation of Master Plan to rationalize distribution both in urban and rural areas and to replace the overhead lines by underground cables in some parts of the town. The introduction of uniform tariff in Karaikal and Mahe and the introduction of spot billing system in Pondicherry town were the other improvements carried out during the period.
Pondicherry region being interspersed by Tamil Nadu Territory, the 22 KV feeders starting from the supply point of 110/22 KV sub-station at Villiyanur have to pass though a long stretch of land thus, reducing the utility of feeders and the voltage. In order to improve the feeder utility factor, reduce the purchase cost of power and obtain improved supply conditions, a proposal was included in the Vth Five-Year Plan, to install an additional 110/22 KV sub-station in Pondicherry region with a common metering point for both the 110/22 KV sub-stations.
Thereafter there has been no looking back in the tremendous Growth of Electricity utilization in the Pondicherry region. The Demand that stood at 25 MVA in 1968 has now escalated to 99999 MVA in 2006 in the Puducherry region. The Power Transmission and Distribution network that started with a single 110/22 KV Sub-Station has now grown into a complex system with two 230 KV Auto Sub-Stations of 360 MVA capacity to receive power directly from Neyveli Lignite Corporation. There are at present ten numbers of 110/22-11 KV Sub-Stations under the Sub-transmission system to distribute the power to every nook and corner of the Puducherry region.
At the time of De Facto merger, out of 176 villages in Pondicherry region as many as 42 had the benefit of Electricity. Until 31 March 1961, 96 more villages were Electrified taking the total number of electrified villages in the region to 138. By 1966, 267 census villages in the region were extended the benefit of electricity. Under the Crash Plan launched in 1969 all the inhabited villages in the region were extended the benefit of electricity by March 1972, i.e., two years ahead of schedule.
Karaikal town came to enjoy the benefit of electricity since 1935 following the agreement reached between one Gopalakrishna Iyer and the Karaikal Municipality on 6 March 1933. The power was supplied to Grand’ Aldee in 1937 following an arrangement made by the Municipality with him on 21 November 1936. The Karaikal Electricity Supply Company came to be formed after the death of Gopalakrishna Iyer in 1940. An agreement was reached on 8 November 1941 with the company for the supply of hydro-electric power through a 11 KV line to the Akalanganni Water Works and for domestic consumption through a 3.3 KV line. The power was transmitted from Mettur through a 66 KV line to Tiruvarur station, from where it was brought through a 11 KV line to a pumping station and to the transformers located at Tittachcheri on the south-west border of Karaikal region. From there the power was transmitted through a 3.3 KV line to the transformers at Grand’ Aldee (200 KV) and Karaikal (50 KV). Although these agreements expired in 1958 and 1961 respectively, they were further extended Upto November 1967.
Thus at the time of merger only two communes viz., Karaikal and T.R.Pattinam had the benefit of electricity. After merger, licenses were issued to extend supply to the remaining four communes. A loan of Rs.2.00Lakhs was sanctioned to the company for extending supply to Niravi, Tirunallar and Ambagarattur. The electrification work was completed during 1958-59.
The Karaikal Electric supply company was taken over by the Administration with effect from 1 December 1967 after paying the company Rs. 7.7Lakhs as compensation. This step helped to achieve rapid progress in the electrification of villages in Karaikal region.
In Karaikal the power was availed at three points of supply viz, Akalanganni. T.R.Pattinam and Ambagarattur from M/s. SMESC, Tiruchchirappalli till 15 May 1968. This concern was taken over by the Tamil Nadu, Electricity Board after 15 May 1968. Since then power was availed directly form the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board. As these points of supply were located at considerable distance from each other, there were many complaints from the power consuming public regarding poor voltage condition. Hence the three points of supply were replaced by a 66/11 KV Sub-station at Velangudi which was commissioned on 12 October 1969. A second point of Supply was commissioned at Vanjiyur (fed off Nagappattinam Sub-station) on 22 February 1970. But Velangudi and Vanjiyur being far off from Karaikal required lengthy 11 KV feeders. Moreover, the distance was responsible for reduced voltage conditions at the tail-end of the feeder. Considering this factor and the economical experts and with a view to ensuring better supply conditions, a proposal was included in the V Plan to install a 66/11 KV sub-station in Karaikal region.
Upto 1966, only 31 out of 118 census villages in the region were electrified. Eight move villages were electrified Upto the end of 31 March 1969. By the end of March 1971, 56 per cent of the villages were electrified. The remaining 50 Villages were electrified by 31 March 1972 under the Crash Programme launched in 1969.
In Mahe, the West Coast Electric Supply Co. Ltd. was issued a license in 1955 to organize the supply and distribution of electricity in the region. The company obtained power from the Kerala State Electricity Board and distributed it in the region. On 1 October 1968 the undertaking was paid a compensation of Rs. 2,67,705 and taken over by the Administration. Since then all matters connected with the supply and distribution of power in the region is attended to departmentally.
The Power requirements of Mahe are now met by the Kerala State Electricity Board at two points of supply viz., Palloor and Mahe. The Sub-station commissioned by the Kerala State Electricity Board at Badagara helps not only to meet the growing demand for power in the region but also to eliminate the low voltage conditions and frequent interruptions in the area.
As on March 31, 1961 there were only 233 connections in the region. There were besides, three industrial services and 235 street lights. The take over of the Electricity Undertaking in 1966 paved the way for rapid electrification of villages and settlements inhabited by the weaker section of the population in the region. All the villages were electrified by 31 March 1970. The scheme for electrifying a portion of Chalakkara and Cherukallai areas was completed by 2 October 1970. This included extension of supply to areas adjoining Pandakkal, Palllur, Chalakkara, Chembra and Pallur Vayal.
The region first received the benefit of electricity in 1956. Since then the supply and distribution of electricity in the region was looked after by the Andhra Pradesh State Electricity Board Which had an office in Yanam to attend to the works. The distribution of power was taken over by this Administration with effect from 7 June 1976.