A bleak power scenario appears to be in store for Kerala with the state recording 30 per cent deficiency in rainfall since the onset of the South West Monsoon in the first week of June.
Inflow into reservoirs of hydroelectric stations has been far short of the normal quantum as the monsoon failed to sustain momentum despite gaining strength in different spells.
According to Indian Meteorological Department director K Santhosh, the state received 66 cm rainfall till today against the normal 94 cm it should have received from June first week.
The normal rainfall to be received by Kerala in the four month South West monsoon season is 204 cm.
"Monsoon has been weak due to a host of factors. Though there were some active spells, they also got weakened as they could not maintain the required momentum. This has resulted in absence of continuous rainfall, as should have happened in normal course", the IMD official told PTI.
State Electricity board sources said reservoirs have recorded the lowest seasonal inflow in recent times this year as there has been a sharp fall in catchment areas, especially upland Idukki district, where the largest hydel electricity projects are located.
Its estimate is inflow has so far been equivalent to 618 million units of power as against 1436 million last year.
While acknowledging the situation is serious, Electricity Minister Aryadan Muhammad said the other day that Kerala would strive to avoid power cut and load shedding through scientific management and tapping outside sources.
Kerala had 30 minute load shedding for a few weeks in peak summer and differential tariff for excess use due to the grim situation in pre-monsoon season, after remaining one of the few states where there was no load shedding or cut in 2010-11.
If Kerala is forced to step up dependence on outside sources and increases borrowing from the central grid, the tariff would go up further, making it a tough choice for the government and power board as providing affordable electricity has been the priority of state's energy policy for decades.
Of the total installed capacity of 2857.59 MW of all sources, hydel stations account for the lion's share of 2040.8 MW of generation, followed by thermal 783.11 MW, which includes supply from NTPC plant at Kayamkulam.
The shortfall also has its adverse fallout on the farm sector, especially pepper production. Traditionally, pepper vines are planted when it rains heavily as sustained showers are essential for the plant to strike root.