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I missed the Copa Del Rey football final match between Real Madrid versus Barcelona FC which was telecast live on TV in the early morning hours of April 17, 2014 . MeECL failed us because the power first went out, followed by two hours of load shedding. I was caught unaware because I must have missed the notice for this load shedding timing, if at all that was publicized since there are different load shedding timings in my locality . Nevertheless my bitter disappointment then was soon overcome by the thought that thousands of football lovers in Shillong too must be equally disappointed. Moreover, I can skip such luxury sometimes since thousands of people in our villages go without power and even students and small business entrepreneurs still struggle because of scheduled load shedding or unscheduled breakdowns.
But why are we still power starved when we live in the midst of plenty of potential power resources, particularly after the Leshka Project was commissioned. In their book, “An Uncertain Glory”, Jean Dreze and Amartya Sen stated that load shedding is the name given to organizing the failures rather than curing them. Therefore, there must be a gigantic inadequacy in the running of the power sector in the State of which load shedding is an obvious manifestation. But explanations for power blackouts are plentiful. So are we expected to be pessimistic that nothing can change except possibly for the worse ? The worse is however not to be expected because where there is a will there is a way with those in the MeECL. This was evident on polling day this month when there was no load shedding in Shillong, and other parts of the State. From where did the extra power come from is, however, a mystery. Some say it must have been diverted from the share of heavy consumers such as the industrial units in the state. I learnt that industrial houses get a substantial share of power; a share that is not rationally proportionate with that of the major domestic needs and for lesser commercial needs which are also affected by load shedding.
It is unfair therefore that the few “haves” who can afford to pay more will also enjoy a better share of an essential public commodity which is frequently in short supply, at the expense of the many “have nots”.
On the other hand these industries do not contribute much to the state in terms of harnessing better revenue and for the economic and social upliftment of the local people. Nor are their products available at a more reasonable rate to the local consumers. Cement is a good example where scores of cement plants in the State making huge profits sell cement at exorbitant rates in the local markets. More cement is exported to Assam and beyond. Employment generation for locals from these industries is dismal. To make matters worse the excessive degradation of the environment caused by these industries is beyond redemption. However, these industries get more consideration and have the political clout to ensure uninterrupted power supply to their units. The worst sufferers or the perpetually powerless attract the least attention. Development is naturally ,as always, the catchword to justify the need for proliferating these industries. But development for whose interest? Certainly not for the public at large! So should they have more power than those of us who have a larger say in a democracy? Or is democracy here of, by and for the few people only? Sounds cynical, but this is a thought which readers should ponder upon. Meanwhile let us hope that power will flow to us lesser mortals during the one month FIFA World Cup tournament from mid June to mid July this year, the first one post the Leshka Project. We will keep our fingers crossed.
K L Tariang,
Funny election rules
Among the many difficulties one faces in Williamnagar, the most peculiar one is finding accommodation. If you have work in East Garo Hills, never make plans to halt in Williamnagar. You will not get a place. The Govt. Circuit House has limited rooms is and mostly occupied by the members of the administration. An ordinary businessman like me has to take refuge in a Tourist Lodge. But the last time I went there I was told that no one is allowed to stay there although the lodge is empty because of Election Code of Conduct Rules! A VIP room there is occupied by the Tourist Officer, Ms T. Sangma herself!. The rest of the rooms are in pathetic condition, but even those are not rented out due to some election rules. I request the Deputy Commissioner, East Garo Hills to please educate his officers more about election rules and ensure that ordinary people like myself do not get harassed. Especially since the Govt is not providing enough means of accommodations to the general people.