Sheela Mamidenna

Monday - Aug 1, 2011

I am in the midst of my writing, feverishly trying to straighten out my thoughts into points and then construct them into meaningful lines when the power goes off. In a flash I panic, ‘is this the normal time for the power to go’, I ask myself.

We have power cuts in summer, rainy and winter too. There isn’t a time when the power wouldn’t go off or the electricity department would give out notices in advance, informing us of the time when we wouldn’t have power. It just goes.

There are cities in India where the situaation is more crazier than ours. It has become a common sight that angry citizens take to the streets in protesting against the abysmal power situation. Some of the areas receive only an hour of electricity every day. Police has to control the law and order situation on account of people’s agitation.

The State Governments blame the Central Govt for not allocating enough electricity, while the Central Govt tries to politicize the issue by trying to shift the blame to its predecessors. People though aren’t ready to buy anymore of these excuses. Power in India is listed on the Concurrent List of the Constitution. This means both the Centre and the States must share the blame.

It is but the Centre’s duty to take charge of all the power matters and be held responsible for the shortage in generation of power. The States too need to ensure that the power distribution is done in the most responsible manner. It is estimated that in 2010 alone, losses in distribution average of power was over 30% across India.

At the Centre, the power, environment, coal and heavy industries ministries have in various ways acted as obstacles to the addition of capacity. In the states, populist governments and spineless electricity regulators have done little to reform ailing distribution networks. The situation is expected to get worse before it gets better.

It is upto us citizens to charter out a better course of action to ensure there is steady stream of power everywhere. Any course of action for the betterment of ourselves and the future generation seems to be revolving around electricity.

On a personal note, power outages has affected my productivity and sometimes even my personal relationships in the social circle. Its a blessing to be living in India with a country blessed with exceptional human capital, governed by exceptionally lackadaisical people and machinery. The, ‘India shining’ grossly puts to shame my picture of an efficient and time-bound writer in the eyes of my professional contacts.

Missing deadlines, sorry mails have sometimes seriously marred my image as a professional. The cliché – ‘bundle of contradictions’- is grossly insufficient to define India, a nation given to extremes. Though the country has developed a lot it is still a challenging place to live in.

To save ourselves from heavy power-cuts and heavy taxes that in turn provide the much needed revenue to run the country, the Government has to listen to the advice of the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) and try and reach a set target of 100,000 MW of additional power generation in the period between 2012 and 2017. This is what is needed to meet the power demand of an economy pegged to grow at 9% per annum.

Lets hope the Lokpal Bill, the various NGO’s and many other social service organizations take up cudgels on the issue and solve it once and for all without any more delays.