Dark Hours

A place so rich in water resources and so deficient in its power supplies is an irony of an indescribable magnitude. Saying this is just an expression of obvious. There is no shock value to it, ne...

A place so rich in water resources and so deficient in its power supplies is an irony of an indescribable magnitude. Saying this is just an expression of obvious. There is no shock value to it, neither is it in any sense a news that can hold a reader for a while. The condition of this State, over decades, on this count has improved so little that calling it an improvement would be inappropriate. If a comparison is drawn between the demand and supply in the past and now, we may even have to regret the backward trend given the rate of progress in other states. Here the reasons for getting to this subject are two; one the winters have set in and people are faced with scheduled and unscheduled power cuts. Even the areas that are metered and pay for the electricity they consume are not spared of these cuts. Other areas which are yet to be metered are worse off. Though we have just entered winter, the situation is only likely to deteriorate. The reports that have started appearing in the newspapers are indicative of how the problem of power curtailment has become a source of public anger. Entire areas in the city and elsewhere are complaining of the problem. Here it must be mentioned that the dependence of life on electricity has tremendously increased from the last decade. Now every single thing of daily use needs electricity to run. This way the enormity of the crisis is only to deepen with the level of dependence on electricity increasing by folds. The second reason why it needs to be underlined here is the activism that the State Government has shown with respect to the power projects established over the waters of the State. The question of royalty and other related matters have now been a central subject of the politics in the State. If there has been a forward moment on this in the direction of people's interests, it must reflect in the improvement of electricity in this State. Merely the official statistics about how much the State exchequer has benefited from a particular legislation or an act of governance sounds unimpressive, if not out rightly false, when the condition of a common man remains absolutely unchanged. These two reasons form the context of the power talk in this column.
It's a given that the requirement of power becomes more during the winters in this State, particularly the Valley and Ladakh. But the irony is that the supply of electricity takes a nose dive at this time of high demand. When the respective ends drift away from each other the gap is only to widen. In this situation either the supply has to fill it, or else the demand factor has to squeeze. None is possible as long as there are no serious attempts to look into the structures firmly placed on either side. We all know that there are multiple factors contributing to the crisis of diminishing supply. The prime reason is the lack of a political initiative to make the power projects responsible, and this by law, to take care of the power supply in the State. Second, the department involved in the distribution of power has to be made directly responsible to the people. There should be an accountability factor at the level of society to take care of the wrongs that are so rampant in our offices and their extensions in the field. If an individual consumer can be penalized on pilfering, why can't the field staff of that area also share the blame, and the subsequent punishment! Installing transformers and meters that can feed a particular number of households, in addition to the meters on individual connections, can also introduce the element of responsibility. The cost of the pilfering by an individual consumer will then have to be borne by the entire group. This can act as check on the errant. On the demand side, there is a need of intervention from government as well as civil society to   not only educate people on how to save electricity but also how to construct houses that can heat up with less electricity. If a consistent intervention is ensured on this side also it can reduce the gap significantly.

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