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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 arręte 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 Governors 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 mazout 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 Pondicherrys 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
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 22.70 lakhs. 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 arręte of 23 July 1956. The total assets were valued at Rs 39.30 lakhs
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 53.00 lakhs. 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
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
7.00 lakhs 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, licences were issued to extend supply to the
remaining four communes. A loan of Rs.2.00 lakhs 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. 7.7 lakhs 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 licence 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
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.