Dr. Asangba Tzüdir
The state government was waiting for this power catastrophe. The comprehensive power policy formulated by the state government in 2014 was meant only for the paper and not to generate power and light. The woeful tale and the impending danger were left unattended. This apathetic response of the Nagaland Government is the cause for this catastrophe.
The reality is being witnessed today and with no ‘back-up’ in every sense of the term, of capital and infrastructure, the worst is about to be witnessed. As per news reports, the replacement of the charred 20 Mega Volt Ampere (MVA) transformer is not going to happen soon and the department’s proposal to the government for a 100 MVA transformer is yet to be approved. The affected public are once again left at the mercy of the department’s make-shift plan.
The government funding to the power department was 7 crore in 2015-2016 which increased marginally to Rs 12 crore for 2016-2017 and this makes up for just 5% against the requirement of Rs 265 crore. With ever increasing demand for electricity but without capacity addition or equipment upgradation, it has only led to major breakdowns owing to aging and overloading of the transformers. The deficit fund allocation only compounds the problem.
How long can the department go on repairing the transformers against an increasing number of transformer breakdowns? What warranty does it hold regarding the durability of the ‘repaired’ transformers or old ones?
The comprehensive power policy that was formulated requires a practical approach in order to address the problems related to the core issues of power generation, transmission and distribution against the growing number of consumers. If the government is only interested in temporal measures, it will not be long before all the aged transformers go up in flames. That will be the dawning of the Stone Age.
On the important aspect of revenue generation, the resources collected should be put to proper use. The department should also keep in check on the expected revenue generation and the revenue actually generated and bridge the revenue gap. Though, it is the government bodies that top the defaulting list for non-payment of electricity bills.
Further, many a time, the electricity bills are also randomly prepared based on the previous reading. As such while preparing bills, the current meter reading should be taken. Measures that are more stringent also need to be adopted to generate the desired revenue.
On the moral front, the consumers should also ensure that the electricity bills are paid in time. Not only that, the consumers should be willing to pay the right amount according to the power consumed. There is a difference between the real amount of power consumed and the power consumed shown by a tampered meter leading to tampered bill amounts. Often, faulty meter causes excess bill amounts, in which case the meter should be replaced, but tampering is done mostly to lower the reading.
On the whole, with rapid urbanization and expansion of township, the demand for power will only increase. An urgent assessment of the present crisis and also a durable way out needs to be worked out in detail beyond temporal measures because make-shift plan are not going to work.
While it is important for better management of all forms of existing resources in tune with potentiality and capacity, this catastrophe has once again presented a situation that seriously demands capacity addition and equipment upgradation. Sadly, the government’s response seems to be tilting towards temporal measure.