State Power Scenario

The new Power Minister AT Mondal is not saying anything new about the dismal power scenario in the State. Power cuts have now started from the wee hours of morning until about 8 am. This leaves the people depending on water to be pumped by the PHED into their residences in the early morning hours before they leave their homes for work, out on a limb. Successive power ministers have stated the obvious – that the power sector needs a major overhaul. This was the answer given in the MDA.1 regime when a lot of what was wrong with the power sector was laid at the doorstep of the previous government led by Mukul Sangma. But five years is a long time to turn the sector around. There was enough time in the last five years to make the MeECL a profit-making entity. So what was the problem in the MeECL that made it a money -guzzling entity controlled by a few contractors? Are we sure that the same business nexus will not afflict the power sector?
The MeECL is a public sector undertaking and nearly all consumers, barring some companies in the industrial estates, are paying their bills regularly. Then why is the MeECL still functioning as a loss making company? The reasons for this should be put out in the public domain because the public have the right to know what is ailing their largest PSU. This is not a matter to be kept under wraps. The recommendations of various committees too should become public documents. It is good to hear the Power Minister speak about milestones or timelines within which MeECL is completely revved up. There’s a limit to how much people can take the load-shedding schedule when they are paying a tidy sum as their monthly bills.
At this juncture there’s no point revisiting the past and remembering those glorious days when ministers would regularly make public statements that Meghalaya is a power surplus state. Since the early 1990’s there were plans to unbundle the Corporation and lease out the transmission and distribution part to private entities because they were unprofessionally managed. The question to be asked is- when in its history has the MSEB turned MeECL ever made profit? The fact of the matter is that the MeECL even today is an overloaded ship that can sink anytime and would have sunk if funds were not regularly infused into the system. And being a Corporation it is easier to get loans even from the open market. MeECL owes power suppliers from the national grid and NEEPCo big money and every time the suppliers threaten to cut off power so that they can get their dues. How long can this carry on and when will MeECL really get out of the rut? For the Power Minister to blame the use of multiple domestic gadgets for high power usage is to actually admit that the State has not even planned ahead and foreseen that power usage will always go up. The people of Meghalaya deserve better.

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