Dr Asangba Tzudir
Currently, the State’s power availability is reported to be around 147 MW out of a peak demand of 180 MW. From this figure, the deficit is the cause of the current power woes especially in Dimapur. The State-owned Likimro Hydro Electric Project (LHEP) has also been generating well below its installed capacity of 24 MW. According to the release, LHEP is only 6-12 MW for approximately 12 hours a day, at present, on account of poor water level. While the peak demand is only going to increase, the only permanent solution is for the state to increase generation.
The only State owned Likimro Hydro power plant is a very small capacity plant and this too is subject to the season which falls to zero generation during dry seasons. Doyang Hydro power plant though having a higher capacity of 75MW but being built by NEEPCO, as per agreement, Nagaland gets only 12% i.e. 9MW. But this too becomes zero during dry season. With all these statistics on offer, Nagaland comes lowest in terms of power generation in India.
As per 2019-2020, Nagaland was buying electricity worth around 400 Crores which the power department sells to public. Sadly, at the end they are able to recover only about 162 Crores. So just going by these estimates, one can work out how much Nagaland Government has lost from non-realization of revenue from electricity bills.
The drastic increase in consumption also aided by the running of high energy consuming electrical appliances like Air conditioners only adds to the electricity woes. As a short term measure, Er Moa, Engineer in Chief has highlighted that, from now on large buildings or complexes and apartments that requires 20kva and above will not be provided new connection unless they install their own transformer. But for long term measure, the only way out is through power generation only which faces lots of issues including landowner issues.
Another alternative is the solar energy and one may think about developing big solar project for places which is hot for most part of the year. However, solar power is still not as effective and commercially viable when compared to other sources because of the much higher cost involved to produce electricity than from coal, hydro or other sources. The semi-conductors used in Solar panels are expensive, the cost of which is said to be five times more. As such, it will be much beyond the paying capacity of the consumers. One can only hope that the cost of generation will get reduced effectively in future.
For now, the Government bears the burden of non-realization of electricity bills and incurs huge amount in importing electricity. As such, besides the responsibility of the Government and the power department in doing their part, a greater responsibility rests on the consumers. The non-paying consumers or those stealing electricity should first set things right, that it is a ‘Right’ of the consumer to pay electricity bills in time, and whatever faulty bills or meter reading should also be addressed and rectified, so that consumers also pay only for the energy they have consumed. This ‘right to pay’ should be translated into a moral responsibility. Besides other serious considerations, if only all consumers duly pay their electricity bills in time, the situation would be much better. Also, the current electricity woes calls for judicious use of electricity. The constant circulars and notifications from the DoPN needs to be adhered responsibly.
On the whole, there is an urgent necessity for the state government to address the issue of power woes. How long will the state remain as the lowest power generating state? How long will the state remain dependent on other external sources? It is also not the case that there is no further scope for power generation in the state. As such the prevailing issues that have impaired increased electricity generation needs to be addressed at the earliest.
(Dr Asangba Tzudir writes a weekly guest editorial for The Morung Express. Comments can be mailed to [email protected])