Don’t capitalise on our power worries
The capital crisis over inordinately inadequate power supply resulting in prolonged load-sheddings in huge swathes of the city requires urgent attention from the central government. Left without a state government and under the mercy of a bureaucracy habituated to chronic lethargy on the one hand, and in the hands of ruthless merchants of profit on the other, the power situation in Delhi has spiraled out of control with the supple falling short of hundreds of megawatts. Despite the union power minister’s assurances on Tuesday, it is imperative that the rudderless administration needs to be steered towards a new work ethic that requires dealing sternly with the errant power discoms, particularly the Anil Ambani-owned BSES companies which are responsible for the severe power fluctuations in the city. Privatisation of power distribution in Delhi has led to not just sky-rocketing utility bills but also an unmanageable predicament when the government regulator is almost being held hostage to the whims and fancies of the private players. Since the decision to discontinue the subsidies initiated by former AAP government in Delhi, the capital has not only been a cauldron of simmering unrest, but has also turned into the sweat capital of the country with the mercury reaching unprecedented highs and the power woefully short of supply. In fact, what the AAP government had managed to achieve in mere 49 days of its staying in power remains unmatched till date with its shining the spotlight on the ugly war between government-owned generation companies and the serially defaulting retail companies. It also campaigned against the unholy nexus between corporate and bureaucratic honchos that led to the escalating prices, slashing of subsidies and short-changing of the public by threatening to cut power supply in the name of maintenance.
It is evident that the private players have left the power sector in appalling state which merits intervention by the union government, as indicated by minister Goyal. However, if the power supply in the national capital is left at the mercy of the errant discoms, who use their political connections to cull out profit from public revenues, do not pay up dues to the government-owned generation companies and do not return bank loans, what could be expected for other cities and towns in the country? It is important that BJP and Congress stop indulging in this ugly sport of blaming each other for the current crisis and tease out a solution together to alleviate the unending woes of the hapless denizens of Delhi. Since the consumers do not even have the subsidies to fall back on as well the scorching summer sun to beat, the prolonged loadsheddings should be the least of their worries. If a mere dust storm can throw Delhi’s power situation off the track and if takes the government weeks to fix the problem, then perhaps citizens would be once again forced to take to the streets to protest against these achche din bijli bin.