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Coal shortage and heatwave spark India's power woes

or more than a month, Sandeep Mall's engineering goods factory next to the Indian capital, Delhi, has been facing crippling power cuts, sometimes up to 14 hours a day.

The 50-odd machines in the factory located in a major manufacturing hub in Faridabad make products for aeronautics, automobile, mining and construction industries.

"Every time the power goes off, the machines stop, the semi-finished products get rejected and we have to start all over again," Mr Mall says.

That happens when he fires up diesel-powered generators to keep the factory running. He says it is three times as expensive to run it on diesel than what he pays to the local power transmission authority.

"This erodes my competitiveness, cuts into my profits. It's a complete mess, and is very frustrating," Mr Mall says.

"These are the worst power cuts I have faced in over a decade."

Beginning in April, power cuts and outages have rippled across India, slowing factories, closing schools, and sparking demonstrations. Two in three households said they were facing power outages, according to more than 21,000 people in 322 districts surveyed by LocalCircles, a polling agency. One in three households reported outages of two hours or more each day.


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