Power scenario in Meghalaya in dire straits


On reading The Shillong Times report of May 17, 2023 it is very disturbing for us residents of Shillong, to hear that Umiam lake has only 1 foot of water left before a shutdown of the turbines.  The CM’s dream of a 10 billion $ economy by 2030 will just remain a dream, if for half a day we remain without power. We do not need Shillong International Airport. We can make do with Guwahati and Kolkata Airports. But we need Electricity and Water – the very basic necessities of life. Government claims that JJM has reached 50 % coverage – How true is that? What kind of water supply is this? JJM gives only a pipe to your house with water flowing to the tap only twice a week. I live in Pynthorbah where we have to buy water every day. And we get to buy water because we are regular customers. If you are not a regular customer, if you call the Bolero tanker today, he will come and deliver water after two days. The reason is that there is no power to run the water pump to fill up the water tanker. And there is a long queue of these tankers. The normal price is Rs.450 per tanker; now it has gone up to Rs 500. People who are not regular customers offer the tanker Rs1000 per tanker. Such is the state of drought in the wettest place on earth. Why?

When the British came to Shillong they created the Ward’s Lake to supply water to the European ward. Why can’t we make more lakes for water supply? For household purposes we need only a few crore litres of water. A lake as big as Umiam is not required for drinking water.  Government has to plan forward and calculate rise in population and springing up of new localities. New Shillong is developing at a fast pace. From where will they get water?  Why are the Rangbah Shnongs not allowing people to drill water? The man who is selling water is also selling drilled water.

Recently the Power Minister said, “there is no way out, we have to wait for the rains”. This cannot happen every year. In a very bad year we might have to shut down all power units completely. Hydro power plants take decades to build. In the US they recycle water to produce electricity. Please Google to read that water can be reused to produce hydroelectric power. Also please Google ‘Largest water pump in the world.’  You will find that this pump has a capacity of pumping 60,000 litres per second and it takes 4 MW to run it. As per my rough calculation, assuming the Umiam dam goes down by 2 cm per day, that is equal to 450 million litres of water per day assuming the area is equal to a catchment area. The world’s largest water pump can pump 5 billion litres of water per day. The capacity of this largest pump in the world, is 11 times the requirement of water in Umiam Power plant per day. A much smaller pump can be used to recycle Umiam. The website of this pump manufacturer is- actionelectricmotorandpump.com.

Yours etc.

David S, Jyrwa

Shillong -1

Elections done and dusted; Govt workers unpaid


I am writing to express my concern about the non-payment of honorarium to West Jaintia Hills District government workers who were deployed for election duties in the recently concluded Meghalaya Legislative Assembly elections. It is distressing to learn that, despite the long-standing tradition of conducting such an essential exercise, government workers who labour tirelessly during elections remain unpaid.

Despite working long hours, especially from February 1st to March 2nd, there has been no payment for government personnel deployed on duty for the polls till date. We understand that the election process is critical to our democracy, and the involvement of government employees in guaranteeing fair elections must be recognized and respected through the payment of the honorarium. During elections, they work round the clock, and their devotion and passion should be recognized.

The Election Commission, in collaboration with the office of the Deputy Commissioner, West Jaintia Hills District, is responsible for ensuring the smooth conduct of the elections process, and one of its primary responsibilities is to guarantee that government officials are compensated fairly for their services. This failure of the District Administration to diligently carry out its duties calls into doubt the office’s commitment to safeguarding democratic values.

I request the Deputy Commissioner’s office to resolve this matter at the earliest and to ensure that government officials receive their just honorarium. It is crucial to express gratitude to the officials who have played critical roles in maintaining the integrity of our democracy. Failure to do so undermines their labour and disenfranchises their contributions.

Yours etc.,

A concerned Government official.

Name withheld on request

Irrelevant Question


Apropos the news report (ST. May 21st 2023) captioned “VPP postures Political Agenda: NPP,” W.R. Kharlukhi, NPP State President said that he conveyed to VPP that the Reservation Policy was bound by Article 16 Clause 4 of the Constitution and asked the VPP, “In which part of the Constitution is it said that the reservation policy is based on population?” In this connection, it would be ridiculous and foolish on my part if I ask which part of the Constitution provides 40% quota for the Garo and 40% for the Khasi-Jaintia ST? It is equally irrelevant to ask the legislator, “In which part of the Constitution the said quota of reservation should not be based on population.”

It may be noted that the Constitution empowers the State Government/UT to make provisions for reservation of appointment of posts in favour of any backward class be it ST, SC or OBC. It also empowers the state to determine the criteria and the base before awarding the quota to the ST category principally based on population.

On the above analogy, the Telangana Government in the recent past has enhanced the quota of the ST category to 10 percent from the current six percent in the state without waiting for Centre’s approval for the bill passed by the legislature based on the increase of ST population after a lapse of 8 years only (news report ST Sept, 2022 captioned Telangana decided to enhance tribal quota to 10 percent).

Hence the Meghalaya Reservation Policy in the present form is baseless and illegal. It is neither based on population nor on the size of the area. We should keep in mind that both Garo and Khasi-Jaintia belong to the same category (i.e., ST category) who are equally backward classes. Apart from those Khasi-Jaintia and Garo residing in the towns, majority of them who are residing in the far-flung villages are very poor and backward to the point that they are living half naked and half fed and are victims of malnutrition, diseases and premature death. Hence there is no justification to say that Garo is more backward than Khasi-Jaintia and vice versa. Both are equal so far as backwardness is concerned.

Without prejudice to our Garo brethren, the present reservation policy is therefore detrimental to the future of our generation (Khasi-Jaintia) and is also a complete disadvantage to our community. Worse is the Roster system which if implemented will be a fatal blow to Khasi-Jaintia job seekers. Its impact will be so alarming that God alone knows what will happen in the days and years to come. It all depends on how our leaders will struggle and fight for justice.

Yours etc.

Svetlana Wankhar,

Via email

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