Thermal power at what cost?

Editor,

After praying for relief from frequent load shedding these days, we now hear that the CM has proposed the start of coal fired thermal electric generating power plants. He is repeating what Bangladesh has often suggested for years now. But the Bangladesh government admits that it cannot install these power plants in their territory. But they would be happy customers of electricity from Meghalaya. The reason is because of environmental concerns due to the high sulphur content of our coal. In fact Bangladesh has often closed the import of this coal, citing this impact on their environment. Let me explain the after affects on the environment in burning this type of coal. Just visit Byrnihat in Ri Bhoi district during a cold morning and smell the air. In Byrnihat you get widespread corrosion of tin roofs and iron steel gates. This is just an illustration to open our eyes to the tell tale hazards of burning this coal. You can also ask the Jaiaw Langsning residents about the after affects of that towering smokestack of Robert’s Hospital.

Yours etc.,

Malcolm Warjri,

Via email

Ridiculous electricity bills!

Editor,

The press release appearing recently in the local papers attempting to explain the reasons for the absurdly high amounts billed by the MeECL for December 2013 is at best specious and ridiculous and at worst. dumb and presumptuous. Adding insult to injury it seeks to put the blame on the agitations which have nothing to do with the matter. The clubbing of two months’ consumption in one bill is a ploy to push up the units consumed to higher slabs, thus inflating the total. But that is not all. Umpteen number of bills saw the amounts shoot up sky high 12 to 18 times the normal amounts for the same months of the earlier years. Bills that used to be Rs 600 became Rs 7200, Rs 700 became 12600!

The authorities sought to explain away everything by saying that the bill amounts would normally rise during the cold winter season. But did we receive similar exorbitant bills in the past years during winter or was there a hue and cry over them then? Never! Could a 1 KW meter bear the load 20 times the given capacity? There is no logical explanation for this massive upsurge, except arbitrariness. Then, the press release says that those who are aggrieved by the abnormally high bills could go and meet so and so at the Office for clarification. This is arrogance. They take it for granted that everybody has the time and willingness to go to the high and mighty at the office when they have committed no wrong and are in fact victims of gross mismanagement on the part of the authorities. They have also offered what seems to be a ‘favour’. If the bill amount is too high, you can pay in installments, they say! From the series of events that had taken place, it can be concluded that ultimately this sorry state of affairs is due not only to the inefficiency of the MeECL alone but also to the inept handling of the problems by the State Government. We can draw our own inference from the chain of events. The central fact is that the MeECL is in the red. It owes the various power supplying companies over Rs 450 crore which has prompted the latter to issue demand notices from time to time to pay up or they would stop supply of power.

The main cause of the MeECL failure to clear the outstanding bills is the failure of most Govt departments and corporations, e.g., the Shillong Municipal Board, to pay the bills of the MeECL. Besides, even some private enterprises are allowed to default payment amounting in one case alone to Rs 14 lakhs, yet supply was not disrupted. So, instead of helping the MeECL ease its financial woes by ordering the departments and the corporations to pay the electric bills regularly and enforce strict adherence to rules by the private companies and also assist the MeECL financially by providing it subvention, if the situation warrants, the government sought a soft target – the hapless, helpless, benign and law-abiding citizens of Shillong. At first, the MeECL had proposed to raise the tariffs to dizzy heights.

The Meghalaya State Electricity Regulatory Commission did not approve and rejected the proposal, for it found no justification for such a steep rise. So they went in for a subterfuge – inflate the consumers’ bills! One wonders, where are our representatives? Why are they silent? There should be a unified demand that the Govt. should tell the MeECL to revise and bring down the inflated bills to the normal amounts on their own, without asking the consumers to beg.

Arvind Kejriwal knocked down and shocked the mighty, complacent Dikshit Govt in Delhi with electric bills! Can we do the same here through the power of the ballot? Fellow citizens, it’s high time to think seriously about it, and act collectively and unitedly!

Yours etc.,

Remington Lyngdoh,

Shillong – 3

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