A crisis of power

Uttar Pradesh is reeling under acute power crisis these days and there is no indication that the problem will be solved soon. The politicians are engaged in the blame game and in the state assembly, there is a war of words between the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) and the opposition Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over who was responsible for the power shortage.

While the SP government and its leaders are blaming the erstwhile Mayawati government for its failure to build adequate power generation capacity in the state, the opposition is charging that the Akhilesh government is mishandling the power department affairs leading to the seriousness of the existing power crisis. The entire opposition is united in launching an attack on the SP government for giving uninterrupted power supply to half a dozen VIP districts like home town of Yadav clan Itawah, Auraaiya, Rampur, Lucknow, Allahabad and  Kanpur, VIP constituencies like Rae Bareilly and Amethi  are however not getting regular power supply.

Leader of the opposition Swami Prasad Maurya said in UP Assembly that there was power failure in Taj Mahal in Agra which attracted lakhs of tourists every year. He claimed that during BSP regime not for a single day there was grid failure in the state. Not only politicians but industry people are also worried about power crisis in the state. The representatives from Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), PHD Chamber of Commerce and other organisations associated with various industries appealed to the chief minister Akhilesh Yadav to improve the power supply.

During recent workshop organised by Giri Institute of Development Studies the participants from the state expressed concerned about deterioration in power supply. The workshop also prepared the study paper to evolve strategy for improve power generation in the state. Similarly World Bank team of experts held discussion with member of civil society in Lucknow to find out ways for better development of the state.

The various issues that came up for discussion included poor power situation in the state. It was pointed out by the experts unless there was comprehensive plan to improve power generation and uninterrupted supply to industry and agriculture sector there could be no development.

Prominent political expert Ramesh Dixit said whatever development in power sector took place it was during Congress regime only. There has been no addition of single unit of power generation since 1990. Elaborating his viewpoint Dixit said that during non-Congress governments, the focus was on caste communal politics and development had taken back seat.

After becoming the chief minister Yadav had made announcement that his government would ensure uninterrupted power supply to rural areas especially in evening. But his announcement could not be implemented.

Senior cabinet minister Shivpal Yadav also announced that state government was serious in dealing with power crisis and was buying power at the rate of Rs 6 crore per day. Although state government had announced that all shops and malls would observe power cut in the state but later revised the order and allowed them to open till usual time.

SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and Yadav accused the previous Mayawati government for the prevailing power crisis in the state. They said that the previous government did not add a single megawatt of power, even as power pilferage hovered around in the range of 40 per cent. They also blamed the Mayawati government for poor maintenance of the power projects, which resulted in tripping therefore aggravating the existing crisis. Yadav said that the previous state government had taken a loan of Rs 6,000 crore for purchase of power.

Meanwhile, the UP Power Corporation, constituted a team of officials to keep a watch on power distribution system in major districts of the state. Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation Limited (UPPCL) chairman, Avnish Awasthi said that officials of the rank of assistant engineer and executive engineers will be on the job from 4.00 pm to 12.00 am midnight, while the junior engineers will take care of sub-stations from 4.00 pm to 6.00 am the next day.

Yadav also  announced that all MoUs signed by previous Mayawati government  for setting up power units in the state would be given additional time to start their projects. Recently Yadav participated in the function with union minister Sriprakash Jaiswal in laying the foundation of power plant with help from Central government in Kanpur.

Since SP is having best of relations with Congress these days whether it be Kannauj by-polls where Congress did not fielded any candidate against Dimple Yadav or supporting Pranab Mukherjee for presidential polls. Yadav is expecting all support from United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in dealing with power crisis.
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