K Saku Jamir
Retd Additional Commissioner of Taxes, Nagaland
The Power Department of Nagaland has an infamy history of chronic power shortage and crisis aglore. What happened a few days earlier when people had to spend sleepless nights, gasping for breath, roasting in the sweltering heat of summer for non availability of electricity due to sudden breakdown of the system is not a new occurrence. The department is broned to power upstage, load shedding and power disruption aplenty. Earlier also, people had suffered under similar situation because of sudden disruption of power supply. They have to stay awake in the harrowing darkness whole night bivoacking in the courtyard. And, at down their eyes swollen and blurred vision due to onslaught of insomnia the night before unable to recognise even their own spouse and near and dear ones. This is the kind of treatment people get in return whom they have duty fully and unwittingly voted to position of power.
It is not a pleasant exercise to raise voices of complaint and criticism against the authority and the power that be. But, people have exhausted their patience to the hilt and are compelled to raise their voice and call a spade a spade and speak the language of truth.
Notwithstanding, leaving aside the woes and agony, for the time being, by which people are tormented, let’s have a look at the ills and disease with which the department is burdened with shortage of power. Nagaland has two power projects (I) the Likhimro Hydro Power Project and (II) Doyang Hydro Power Project. These two power projects are unable to generate power as expected. The reason behind this is none other than mismanagement, failure of execution, financial embezzlement and skullduggery by the management.
Another important reason for frequent breakdown and disruption of power supply is because of the fact that the entire power structure like power line, equipment and machinery etc. are substandard or reconditioned materials.
It is frequently observed that the installed transformer are burnt up or breakdown resulting in disruption of power supply for hours on end. Breakdown of electric lines and shortage of circuit is also a frequent occurrence. Manipulation in power reading and meter box is also a monotonous regularity which is causing loss and reduction of power. Illegal tapping of power is also rampantly indulged in the out skirt of the town, subways and by-lanes resulting in pilferage of power.
The power department is expected to be self sufficient in power management. Crore of rupees are collected from the consumers monthly. The consumers are prepared to pay the cost of power. If we are not in a position to generate enough power, then efforts should be made to buy power from other sources. The North Eastern Power Grid is there, Central Electricity Board is also there and the government of India can also be approached to bail us out from the impending power shortage. All available efforts should be explored to make the availability of power a reality. A shopping spree is the need of the hour in the interest of suffering public.
The importance of electric power needs no emphasis in today’s age of information technology. All economic activities are power driven. All electrical gadgets are power based. If power supply is disrupted or stopped, all productive activities will come to a grinding halt. Production will be surely affected; development and growth will also be impeded. More than 60 years after attaining statehood, we are still reeling under sever power shortage. We are also made to commute on slushy, muddy and pothole ridden roads. It is an unmistakable truth that this is not only taking a tool on our health but also our economy is retarded. It is a shameful and painful feeling indeed.
All said and done, I don’t foresee any shortcut, no magic or panacea to stem the rot of energy and power crisis, indeed, the need of the hour is a complete revamp, overhaul and turnaround of the establishment. However, to achieve this in the first place, the government should realise to importance of the department and expected to allocate funds liberally and rationally. On the execution and implementation part, the official meaning the department should realize their bounded duty to public and discharge their duty with utmost sincerity and integrity, in as much as, every official is expected to bear his or her share of the blame for non performance.
Equipments, machineries and tools should be utilized as per standard authority of India’s approval. Pilferage of power by illegal tapping should be contained. Manipulation of meter, meter reading and tampering of meter should also be checked and stopped. Lastly and more important one is the need to go on shopping to procure power at any cost which the consumer is prepared to pay.
Solution to the problems seems impracticable. However, the solution can be found within our courtyard. Devotion, integrity and transparency are the only requisite weapons to fight the battle. It is said that uneasy lies the head that wears the crown. It’s also said that responsibility can weigh down a man. These are the attributes needed of man of honesty and integrity of leader of man.
The scenario reminds me of the lines of Robert Frost, the American poet, “The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promise to keep, and miles to go before I sleep. And miles to go before I sleep”.