Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Power: Only in Politics, Not in Homes!

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

I was born in a power surplus state. Childhood visits to relatives in South Assam would involve mocking them for regular power cuts. Since Meghalaya exported power in those days we could wear the crown of charity on our heads.  If that wasn't enough the road conditions there would arm us in our debates. After enjoying almost three decades of rains in the ‘Abode of Clouds’, I am on the receiving end from my relatives in South Assam. Jokes apart we are just taking giant strides towards becoming a failed state – power shortage, poor roads, and pathetic civic infrastructure, what is there for us to be proud of? We might soon have to prefix ‘erstwhile’ before ‘Scotland of the East’.

This is a result of the lack of vision and foresights of our leaders. Power demand always goes north and thus the government should have planned for this demand long in advance. Blaming Mother Nature for lack of rains is brushing the issue under carpet. Only a fraction of our demand is met through these hydroelectric projects and bulk of our requirement is purchased from outside over which the state has defaulted payments for months. The same MECL doesn't resist from sending us a ‘red bill’ if we default on a single month’s payment!

But how on earth do we even dream of having a visionary leadership in our state. In most parts of the last decade the Chief Minister irrespective of the person who has occupied the chair has been fire fighting within the government. Every day has been spent in trying to keep the members of the ruling party and coalition partners happy. In 42 years since statehood we have had 25 different governments and that would imply almost one year and seven months for each Chief Minister’s tenure. Compare this to Tripura which is a power surplus state and has had 10 governments in the last 52 years.

It is not only in the power sector that we have failed. In the next few years we might also face acute shortage of water. Cherrapunji and Mawsynram enjoy the distinction of being the wettest places on earth. Isn't it the biggest irony that these places face acute shortage of water during the winters? Even the almighty would laugh at us. Why haven’t we been able to harvest water?  Valleys can easily be turned into lakes and reservoirs which not only store water but allow us to generate electricity. The least that is spoken about our National Highways, State Highways and City Road the better it is. What a sorry state we have walked ourselves into.

In the recent past the NGOs have be at logger hands with the state government over implementation of Inner Line Permit to prevent influx of outsiders into the state. They can perhaps relax, if the government continues to maintain the status quo on development of infrastructure there would be no need for such measures! But hang on; we need not worry about all these issues. Our leaders can easily knock the doors of the centre and get a bailout package to pay their dues and purchase power. No one would ever be held accountable for the misery that we have suffered. 


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