Powerless people


As mercury continue to soar in Dimapur, power consumers here are caught in a major crisis of power and water woes. The power shutdowns have increased in inverse proportion to the rising temperatures, and we the consumers experiencing not just increased power outages but also massive water shortage. The State Power Department remains incorrigible despite public outcry. Inefficiency and incompetence apart, even corruption apart; the department has become a festering sore with no hope of a cure at hand. Sure, power supply is a nation-wide issue and Nagaland is not an isolated case. However, improvement of the system through reforms and technical upgrading are not to be ignored and reduced to the level of futility. But this is precisely the situation prevailing in the State. To top it all, instead of looking at lacunae within, the department continues to shift the ball in the court of consumers by asking them to ensure judicious use of power and avoid using electrical appliances during peak hours. This is the case every year during summer when the State power department, unable to ensure a semblance of power supply, asks paying consumers to judiciously use power by avoiding using electric appliance during peak hours. Indeed while judicious use of power and water is imperative for every individual, it is absurd to expect public to save their electric appliances like refrigerators and air-conditioners for some rainy day. If they are not to be used when mercury soars, what is the purpose of possessing such gadgets in the first place! Year after year, successive governments have been unable to address the power and water woes of people in this State during peak seasons when the demand is high and the supply remains limited. There has never been an effective strategy to deal with the power shortage holistically at all levels – generation, supply and regulating consumption. The power crisis stems from multiple reasons including transmission and distribution losses. Clearly there is a need to revisit the entire power policy of the State. Various pretexts had been forwarded to justify why there are recurring power cuts or why there is power failure or why we have perennial power shortages. They may be sound reasons, no doubt. However, that does not mean that we remain content with what is there and not try to improve it or at least understand that we are running an obsolete power infrastructure. Why are policy planners failing to demonstrate vision and initiative, and who is to infuse these into the working of the State Power Department? We are accustomed to the patent rhetoric and we are almost reconciled to what we are facing in the power sector. The sad part is that despite all mud-slinging at the department, something that has become routine with the civil society and the media, departmental authorities never find it necessary to take the civil society on board in connection with difficulties in the distribution of power. Successive governments over the years have vowed to rectify the problem and improve the power situation but had ended blaming defaulting consumers for poor power supply. The reality, however, is that Government departments, where misuse of power is the highest, are among the major defaulters and they still do not face the routine power shut downs as ordinary consumers do. Some years back, Government statistics on power defaulters had listed various Government departments and security forces as major defaulters with dues that run into crores of rupees. What happened to the list, and whether the defaulting departments and agencies had cleared the dues is anybody guess. In the meantime while consumers are preached about austerity and judicious use of electricity, the Government functionaries are freely wasting electricity and turning a blind eye to the accumulating dues which is going to be eventually paid for by the tax-payer’s money. It is time to take the issue seriously and call for drastic cuts in power expenditure of Government offices and the official residences of politicians and bureaucrats. Diverting public exchequer money meant for other projects for paying these pending dues that are an accumulation of non-planning and wasteful use of power supply and blaming the hapless public for injudicious use of electricity and power thefts is ridiculous.