Varanasi, the city which got electricity some eighty-six years ago, has now become a wireless city, as a project to lay underground lines over 16 has been finally completed.

For Powergrid, the company conducting the Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS) project, laying cables for 50,000 consumers through the congested lanes & markets in one of the worlds oldest cities was quite a challenge.

Demographics-wise Seoul and some Turkish cities on the riverfront were considered complicated. While implementing IPDS in Varanasi, we realised this is the most complicated city to lay the infrastructure for underground cables, stated Sudhakar Gupta, Project Manager -IPDS, Powergrid. The company took two years and completed in December 2017.

Since lanes are narrow, very small pedestal boxes had to be installed for switch boxes.A? Eleven old substations have been modernised and two new ones built at Chowk and Kazzakpura areas. Dealing with existing underground utility lines for sewage, water supply, BSNL, among others, was also a challenge. As there is no map of these lines, Powergrid workers often damaged them, stopping work till compensation was paid to the agency concerned.

Atul Nigam, managing Director of Purvanchal Vidyut Vitran Nigam Limited, said, line and revenue losses have reduced after putting cables underground. Line loss in the area covered by IPDS has come down to 9.9% from 42.7%, while consumer complaints have dropped as well, he said.

Former Union Minister of State for Power and Coal, Piyush Goyal had announced the INR 432-crore project for underground cabling work under IPDS for Varanasi in June 2015. Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the INR 45,000-crore IPDS for the country in Varanasi in September 2015. The pilot project was rolled out in Kabir Nagar and Ansarabad.

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