Prompt response of state government to GNLA clarification

Posted in January 2012

Thomas Lim
Meghalaya government for once was prompt to give press statement on ground reality on Power supply in the three districts of Garo Hills claiming that it is also a serious concern of the Government”. However, the facts and figures only show the pathetic condition of power in the state, especially in Garo Hills districts.
Less than 24 hours of the clarification, Garo Hills was plunged into darkness on Tuesday by evening. The reason - problem in Nongstoin power station; only to once again ignite the already furious public.
However, most of the projects mentioned are either a non-starter or have been pending for almost three decades. Garo Hills have experienced black out for more than 100 hours at a stretch. Due to the topography, changing of transformers have taken six months long, yet the employees of Meghalaya Energy Corporation Limited (MeECL) were working day in and day out.
The employees posted in Garo Hills, not only have to work  under duress due to the Law and Order situation, even the Headquarters in state capital is ignoring the difficulties faced by the subordinates. This had frustrated many employees yet they performed their respective duties religiously, hence, the kidnapping of the two MeECL officials, Assistant Executive Engineer of Rural Electricity Corporation (REC) of MeECL, Apus Pohtmi based at Tura; and Junior Engineer Boney Majaw is not justified!
Regarding the poor power supply to the rural areas, one is forced to wonder as Meghalaya used to be a power surplus state once upon a time.  Ironically, today, it is facing the crunch to even meet the minimum power requirement within the state. The technical hitch which is pushing the state into such a situation is both, generation and distribution systems which are now being done using antiquated equipment not to mention the thoroughly unprofessional and unskilled maintenance works carried out by the personnel of MeECL .
One does not know whether the MeECL and the state government should be congratulated for the following : On paper, entire Meghalaya has been electrified. This statement by the authorities are in stark contrast to the fact that the population of  more than about 70 per cent of the rural villages in the state are yet to experience  reading under the light shed by an electric bulb. This situation is prevailing in the state even when there are several centrally aided programs like the Rajiv Gandhi Rural Electrification Scheme.
It is with the accurate knowledge about the poor capacity of the MeECL in providing and maintaining continuous and sufficient power all over the state and also its lack of proficiency in maintaining the transmission and distribution lines that recently the BSNL authorities, when questioned by the Chief Minister on the poor CellOne connectivity and broadband services in Meghalaya, made a cool reply “ Supply us the power, we ensure connectivity”.
Surprisingly, other distributing agencies like the Power Grid or NEEPCO do not have such problems even though they are also functioning from similar and sometimes same areas. Likewise, other hill states of the North east like Sikkim or Arunachal Pradesh  or even Darjeeling do not experience such power  disruptions nor do the people of those states and areas have to put up with silly excuses like the ones  put forth by our MeECL.
Politically, the portfolio of Power has always landed several Power Ministers in problems. That the president of  the Meghalaya Democratic Party, Martel D. Mukhim and his party was totally wiped off in the last Assembly elections in the state, this  could well be attributed to the fact that his constituency, Dienglieng, is still grossly unconnected to the power distribution lines  in  the state. 
The situation in the state is not going to improve an iota even if the  MeECL is now corporatised. Until and unless the existing manpower complement in the department  is made to understand  their  responsibilities and compelled  to undertake them diligently and the work culture in the department thoroughly overhauled into a positive note, the electricity consumers of this state will have to grope in dark and search for candle sticks during the silent hours.
One wonder how many more MeECL employees need to be kidnapped by many other militants groups in the state then only the government will improve their governance and built the require infrastructure in order to have proper supply of electricity.

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