Friday, March 2, 2012
ELECTRICITY MANAGEMENT = IN TAMILNADU = Urgent Measures Needed on Demand & Supply Sides = sides both
When fighting the last Assembly Elections in Tamilnadu, neither the DMK nor the AIADMK would have thought of the very serious implications of the looming Power shortages in the State.
Both were promising so many Freebees to the people of Tamilnadu – that people were overwhelmed with their promises. With the Freebees promises becoming equal from both, the ballot tilted in favour of the better of the two, in other matters, including corruption, General Administration etc.
The 2 G corruption noise was so overwhelming at the time of Elections – that people had no hesitation in defeating the DMK on that score.
Now, the Chief Minister, Ms.J.Jayalalithaa wants to fulfill her election promises quickly and has been attempting one after the other. These include laptops for students, table fans, mixers and Grinders and so on. The procurement and supply of these has started in right earnest.
But, now comes the inevitable problem. Many parts of the state are suffering serious Blackouts of Power- in some cases, extending up to 10 hours per day. Industries, residences and schools are all reeling under the impact of this huge power cut. This may be a legacy from the erstwhile DMK Government. But, it comes when the AIADMK is in Power.
This has to be tackled fast by the present Government. Else, Industrial Production will suffer. Hospitals will find it difficult to cater to even chronic and serious Patients. Schools will find it difficult to function. Residences will find it hard to carry on normal life. Trade, business, services will all suffer seriously. All over the world, Electricity has become the central nervous system for public life and its absence will grind public life to a serious halt.
So – how is to be tackled fast? Ms.J.Jayalalithaa is of course known for her willingness to take hard decisions when hard circumstances call for such hard decisions. As far as Electricity is concerned, now is one such time.
There is a need to manage the supply side; and there is also the need to manage the Demand side, efficiently.
SUPPLY MANAGEMENT :
It is difficult to increase the supply of electricity in short time – unless T’Nadu finds the money for it and the vendors for it, at an appropriate tariff. These options must be explored fast.
Tamilnadu Government may need to give soft, long term loan to the Tamilnadu Electricity Board, through the Electricity Power Finance Corporation partly and directly by itself partly.
Tamilnadu Government can also announce postponement of the distribution of freebees and non-essential subsidies etc which were promised earlier – to the Next Year or Next, next year. This money can immediately be loaned to Tamilnadu Electricity Board for power purchase. The public will appreciate such a gesture.
Government of India is bent on commissioning the Koodankulam Atomic Power Project. The people in its vicinity are agitating against it. Government of India is now coming with the argument that – the agitation is funded and sustained by some foreign funding agencies.
Not everything is right with foreign funding of the NGOs in India. There is nothing wrong in some essential scrutiny of the funds being received from the foreign sources and their ultimate uses. But, the doubt in NGOs’ minds is – that like in the case of anti-corruption agitation, the Government of India is likely to use this scrutiny – to selectively target some NGOs, to the exclusion of others. The Government of India must therefore be totally transparent in dealing with the NGOs – while expecting them to be transparent in their operations. Many NGOs are doing extraordinary work which no Government is capable of even attempting – and that should not be destroyed merely on the ground of some small errors here and there. On the other hand, there is enough justification to promote such private effort for public Good.
Back to the Electricity shortage again.
It is said that Tamilnadu Electricity Board has accumulated losses of around Rs.40,000 cr. Therefore, buying Power on credit – is tough for this Board, as vendors will seek payment guarantees. This year at least, T’nadu Government may have to give such State guarantees and abide by them – to create an atmosphere of confidence in the vendors’ minds.
Going forward, Tamilnadu must create a plan for the self sufficiency of Tamilnadu Electricity Board. TNEB can actually be made profitable and contribute reasonable dividend to state Exchequer, in 2-3 years time.
Tamilnadu Government must manifestly plan for additional power generation plants and go all out, sanctioning as many projects as it finds viable – with as much speed as possible.
Though it is difficult to be totally convinced with the NGO inspired agitation story at Koodankulam – yet, the fact remains that Koodankulam had seen heavy investments for a number of years already – and therefore the question does arise, why the local residents did not object when the Plant was in initial stages. At this (current) stage, there appears to be NO WAY GOING BACK on the plant commissioning. Having done this, the centre must also allocate a fair share of Power from the koodankulam plant for Tamilnadu needs at the normal tariff.
Government of India will, however, have to take all possible precautions to assure the Tamilnadu citizens of the safety measures at the plant and ensure that the surroundings of Koodankulam and every other such plant are blocked for further residential Units. All future Atomic Power Plants will need to ensure a 10-20 KM area surrounding it for vegetation and other purposes – and not for residential purposes – the only exception being residences for the workers and officers of the plant.
Reliance Power Plant (a UMPP) is ready in Andhra Pradesh. It is Gas based. But, the Government of India has so far not a taken a decision on Gas supply to this Gas based Power Plant. It does have its reasons – like dwindling supplies from KG basin and so on. But then, it can authorize the companies in this sector, like Reliance, ONGC, CAIRN etc to look at outside sources of Gas and arrange for some supplies from international sources till local supplies stabilize. Power must be considered as an Essential, Basic resource and its supply must be managed efficiently by the Central and State Governments. Likewise, Coal based Power plants must be authorized to procure more coal internationally.
DEMAND SIDE MANAGEMENT :
It is good that Tamilnadu Government has increased Tariffs and has also announced some Power holidays and well organized power cuts. These power cuts can be reviewed at taluk and village levels and properly adjusted to suit the local needs. If this is done, the suffering of people will come down to an extent.
There should be no pilferage – especially by Political Parties and Political personalities – for holding meetings, functions and marriages etc. Government should seek information on Pilferers – keep the information confidential – and levy heavy fines on such pilferers. All Political Parties, including the 2 major parties must co-operate to reduce public suffering.
Some religious bodies can be seen using electricity for external decorations and for conducting meetings, gatherings etc a little extravagantly - even when there is heavy Power shortage for essential use. In normal times, these can go on unhindered. But, when there is no electricity for domestic, agricultural and industrial use, there is need for religious bodies also to co-operate by reducing such extravagant use. Strong requests must be made to such bodies to reduce their consumption on such meetings.
Lights, Fans, mixers, Grinders, water pumps/motors, washing machines etc in homes are essential and they do not consume much electricity – compared to water-heater rods, air-conditioners etc. The usage of such Power guzzlers (water heater rods and A/c Units) can be temporarily prohibited in residences – so that supply for essential needs can be improved.
Usage of more power-efficient lights must be encouraged. These are all normal measures. But, these are essential now – to reduce public suffering through more efficient distribution of scarce electricity for essential needs.
If there is more seriousness in more efficient use of electricity – the adverse impact of the present huge power cuts can be minimized.
All Power producing Units – including Koodankulam – must be put into optimal operation quickly. The centre and state must lose no time in it. Evidently, all this also applies to all states having Power shortage. In fact, the centre can formulate a National Policy on this – with the agreement of all states.
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