Slow cabling system adds to power supply woes in Odisha's Rourkela

Interestingly, despite its transition to a Smart City, Rourkela grapples with power disruptions due to the absence of a comprehensive underground cabling network, especially evident during natural calamities when power lines often suffer damage. Surprisingly, several prominent areas of the city were equipped with an underground cable ducting system some years back, yet this infrastructure remains untapped.

According to sources, as part of the Smart City Phase 1 and 2 initiatives, significant thoroughfares such as the Rourkela main road from Panposh to Bisra square, along with 27 other road projects spanning an additional 22 km, were primed for underground cabling. This encompassed the Hanuman Vatika bypass, roads in the Civil Township locality, Mahtab Road, and various internal roads.

Insiders at Rourkela Smart City Ltd (RSCL) disclosed that underground cabling was introduced in strategic zones to avert future disruptions caused by road excavation post-enhancement under the Smart City Mission. However, certain planned areas were shelved due to exorbitant costs and public dissatisfaction stemming from prolonged roadwork inconveniences linked to both underground cabling and the Integrated Sewerage System.

Despite an investment exceeding Rs 15 billion in infrastructure for hosting the FIH Men?s Hockey World Cup in January 2023, incomplete cabling is attributed to poor planning and financial management. Former president of the Rourkela Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Subrata Patnaik, stressed the longstanding demand for underground cabling in Rourkela. He recalled raising the issue with WESCO and later with TPWODL. During his tenure as RCCI president, a meeting on August 16, 2022, saw the then TPWODL CEO G Kale, in the presence of the incumbent Energy Minister Pratap Keshari Deb, pledging to commence underground cabling of power from November 2022, which unfortunately did not materialise. Patnaik reiterated the call for immediate action to ensure underground cabling of the existing power cables and urged the Odisha government to provision for underground cabling across the rest of the city.

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