Monday, July 22, 2024

Need for stronger customer support at MeECL


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Apropos my previous letter titled, “Is MeECL a liability for the consumer?”, (ST, June 17), let me express my gratitude to the higher officials in MeECL for promptly addressing my inflated bill issue even during the Eid holiday. Hats off to their dedication! However, my effort is to highlight the plight of general consumers, especially the illiterate, whose complaints often go unnoticed or unaddressed, leading to prolonged suffering.
To alleviate such issues, it is my earnest request to the power house to set up a strong online customer care support system. I firmly believe that the corporation should not lag behind in this digital era; it should consider implementing features similar to those implemented by BSES Rajdhani, which provide online resolution of customer grievances, eliminating the need for physical visits to the power office and alleviating mental distress.
Well, if not all features, MeECL should at least introduce dedicated customer care services with live chat and email support. Aside from this, complaints raised through the existing Megha Power app should be promptly attended to — before customers lose their power and their patience!
Moreover, it is also essential that the office staff whom customers often approach be solicitous, guiding and resolving grievances efficiently.
This request is made in the greater interest of aggrieved customers who have long suffered due to the inadequacies of MeECL’s customer support system. I believe the improved customer service will not only enhance consumer satisfaction but also raise the reputation of MeECL as a responsive and responsible utility provider. This power corporation should not at all take away the sunshine from the hearts of its consumers.
Yours etc.,
Salil Gewali,

Criminal failure of Indian Railways

Indian Railways have been playing with our lives by not filling up vacant posts and by forcing their personnel to overwork. Railway officials said that a preliminary probe into the recent fatal rail accident indicated that the loco pilot of the goods train disregarded the signal, which led to the Kanchenjunga Express accident.
Nidhu Bhushan Dutta, a permanent invitee-member of the All India Loco Running Staff Association and former working president of the Organisation, rightly said, “We are surprised that the railway board chief accused the deceased loco pilot of overshooting the signal before any proper inquiry. Why didn’t they fill the vacant posts? Why did they force train drivers to work beyond their capacity?”
An RTI reply says that of 1,27,644 sanctioned posts of loco pilots and assistant loco pilots, 18,766 – nearly 15 per cent – were vacant as of March 1 this year.
Two freight trains collided and hit a third on April 19, 2023 in Singhpur, Madhya Pradesh. A loco pilot was instantly killed. The loco pilot, Rajesh Prasad Gupta, had worked 14 to 15 hours of duty at a stretch when the accident took place. The Commissioner of Railway Safety Report observed that, most likely, the loco pilot became sleepy because of exhaustion, and as a result, the collision took place.
After the said accident in April 2023, three major train accidents took place within a span of one year and two months. A collision among three trains happened in Odisha’s Balasore on June 2, 2023. That accident claimed 296 lives. Then two trains collided in Andhra Pradesh’s Vizianagaram, killing 17 people on October 29. Now, the Kanchanjunga Express from Agartala to Sealdah got hit from behind by a goods train near Rangapani railway station on June 17.
Train Collision Avoidance System, later renamed as Kavach, is an automatic train protection system that helps prevent collisions if two trains are on the same track. Had it been in place, it would have saved the collision between the Kanchenjunga Express and the goods train. Senior railway officials said that a field trial was started for Kavach in 2016. But it has been installed only in less than 1,500 km of tracks out of the total 70,000 km covered by the Indian Railways across the country. That means this life saving device has so far been placed in only a little over 2 percent of railway tracks in eight years after its field trials!
Now, what is the reason? Railway officials said that the reason is high cost and technical challenges. What a joke! The cost is a factor when it comes to enhancing safety and saving human lives. But cost is not a factor for a glamorous bullet train project!
When we have a speedier alternative in air transport, there is no reason why Indian Railways must compete with airways. Railways cannot make their bullet ride a cheaper option than air travel. The government needs to make existing train journeys more punctual and safe instead of sweeping train safety under the carpet of bullet and Vande Bharat trains.
Kavach should immediately be installed in the rest of nearly 98 per cent of railway tracks. Plus, all railway vacancies must be filled up without any delay. It will be dangerous if train drivers are forced to do extra shifts. It will be equally dangerous if there is a lack of manpower in the field of track inspections and maintenance.
Two things surprisingly coexist – a rise in unemployment and a fall in railway recruitment. It is a scandalous irony in a country that is rich in demographic assets.
Yours etc.,
Sujit De,

Why are army authorities claiming rights over a public road?

Traffic congestion is a daily phenomenon in Shillong and with the monsoons, traffic congestion is at its worst. It is indeed challenging for us lesser mortals to try to reach our destinations. For those of us coming from Oxford Hill and Last Stop when we reach Rhino Point, we are made to go all the way to Anjalee Petrol Pump (where the traffic is always at its peak) to again reach Rhino Point then proceed to our respective destinations. If the Cantonment road (the one leading to Lady Keane College and Civil Hospital) can be opened to the general public during school hours and when it rains, it would really ease traffic congestion in that area to a great extent and allow us to reach our destinations on time. Unfortunately the army authorities prohibit vehicles from using that alternate route thereby adding to the traffic mess. The guards have received such stern orders from their superiors that even when there is heavy rain like these days they will just not allow any vehicles to use that road. What is the big deal that a public road is turned into an “army only” road? If the army does not want any “trespassers” to use that road then they should move to less congested areas and open up these areas for public convenience. The army cannot permanently station itself here in the heart of the town at the cost of the public here.
The army has been known to be stiff-necked about cantonment areas as if they are a breed apart and the Government has just bowed down to their royal wishes. It’s high time that the State Government talks to the Defence Minister and get this road vacated so that some of the perennial traffic mess is solved.
Prompt intervention of the State Government in this respect is sought for in this matter. This same road was used in the past and the army got an alibi to prevent its use by the public after the Covid lockdown. How conveniently they have used the lockdown to assert their authority over “our land.”
Yours etc.,
Jenniefer Dkhar,
Via email


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