Leader Writer : Sukham Nanda
It is indeed an eye opener for all concern citizen of the valley districts of the state to make regular and complusory payments of their due service taxes for the consumption of electricity at the moment during the special drive that has been initiated in the state jointly by the officials concern of the Manipur Electricity Department with assistance from the state police department.
The present initiative of the chief engineer of the Manipur Electricity Department to conduct specific drive of collection of due power tariff from the consumers and subsequent diconnection of the power line from the defaulters in compliance to the recent ruling of the division bench of Guwahati High Court, Imphal Bench, comprising of Justice B.K. Sharma and Justice Asok Potsangbam has today issued a notice of motion returnable within 4 weeks with regard to a public interest litigation (PIL) filed against the erratic electric power supply in Manipur has drawn the sense of responsibilities of all concerned at the moment.
It may be mentioned that, Human Rights Law Network, have filed a PIL to Guwahati High Court, Imphal Bench signed jointly by Prof. Amar Yumnam of Economics Department, Manipur University, Dr. Angomcha Bimol Akoijam, associate professor of Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi and Pradip Phanjoubam, editor of Imphal Free Press, under the initiative of advocate Meihoubam Rakesh, director of HRLN, Imphal.
In the said PIL, the petitioners contended that the bonafide consumers of electric power in the state of Manipur get only about 3 to 4 hours of power supply in a day while its neighboring states like Mizoram, Nagaland and Assam get 24 hours of uninterrupted power supply. They further maintained that considering the peak hour requirement of 170/180 MW, the State could afford to purchase only about 90 MW from power stations like NEEPCO and NHPC, out of which 80 percent are lost every month due to power theft and tripping.
The electricity department of the State spends Rs 11.5 crore every month in purchasing power, however, it could collect only Rs 1.5 crore from consumers, due to systemic failure and widespread corruption in the Electricity Department, the petitioners stated in the PIL.
Although Manipur has hydro power potential of 2000 MW, at the moment the power sector of the state is by and large “powerless” to meet even domestic requirement of around 1,74,127 consumers (all inclusive). The licensee so far utilized only 5%. Tapping of 60% of the potential will serve all purposes including earning handsome revenue. The state purchases 438 MV from NEEPCO and NHPC (central undertakings) in 2005-06. The gap between demand and supply remains constant in spite of so-called attempt of 3918 existing staff of the licensee. In 2003-04, the gap was highest with 48% followed by 39% in 2005-06. The level of power consumption is fairly low. The per capita power consumption is only 146 KWH in 2004-05 while the All India Average is 354 KWH, and while that of Daman and Diu is 2335 KWH, that of Goa is 724 KWH, that of Pondicherry 867 KWH and that of Delhi 577 KWH (1996-97). At present the Electricity Department did not take up appropriate steps to recover arrear of electric bills from the defaulter and disconnect the defaulters in accordance with the procedure established by law.
Instead, the licensee has been subsidizing the defaulters and penalizing the regular payees by subjecting both to equal access and equal darkness. Such act of licensee implies absence of regulatory mechanism and absolute lack of governance.
In fact, the swift action against defaulters and illegal power connections that have been conducted in the valley district could be taken as a positive actions on the part of the mobilizing the resources for the concern department during which some handsome income could be collected during the drive.
No doubt, the same policy will aught to extend in entire Manipur state by the department, the matter of concern department that there difficulties in same drive in hill districts of the state in terms of collection of the power tarrif from the common villagers of the hill district where there is no implementation of MR&LR Act, as the department is still not given authentication of official power connection to the persons (s) who could provide proper Pattas or land in his/her name. But it is has been clear that, the entire hill districts of the state have covered by total electrification at present, and it has been fear that whether the present drive of collection of due electrity bill drive in hill district could be fulfil without a proper policies of the state government and this will create rather another consequences of more deterioration on violence of secularism by the state government in between the people living in valley and hill districts of the state.