Friday, March 30, 2007

Power crisis in Mumbai- Maharashtra a failed state !

Somehere in rural Maharashtra, near a tiny dark hut, a woman is sitting , using her pallu to fan her little baby to comfort her from crippling heat and darkness, occasionaly looking at the shadow of tree in courtyard, with hint of tears in her eyes. There is no power in the village and the tree in the courtyard sometime metamorphoses and looks like her husband who hanged himself on it , just a month back. Hanged himself on same tree, when he was driven to penury, when his sugarcane crop was not bought by the sugar mill owner to avenge the caste which had not voted for the mill owner's politician father. In distant corner of the village, near the small cluster of shops which are unlit and dark due to perennial power shutdown, stands a tall statue of great marathi warrior Shivaji.

For first time in 36 years, Mumbai (read south Mumbai) may be subjected to scheduled power cuts. BEST general manager said that BEST would ask all the cinema halls in south Mumbai to cancel their noon shows to beat the power crisis. He said that "it won't make any difference if people don’t watch movies in the afternoon". What an absurd argument. I understand that there is power shortage and some power saving measures is need of the day. But what I find absurd is the way BEST manager is asking consumers to save the power. He doesn't show any concern or remorse that consumers would be affected by shortage in power and is almost insinuating as if watching movies on afternoon is a sort of frivolous activity which can be done without, almost as if watching noon shows is causing power shortage and by discontinuing these shows we can save power. If we have to extend the logic, we might as well say it won’t make any difference if we don’t use our TV sets during the day, stop using air conditioning, just use fans, and open shopping malls only during day. Some one might suggest that this would be good since it would make us free from our dependence on various machines gadgets and devices. It will be in keeping with Indian culture which has always encouraged frugality. BTW, how much power can we save my stopping noon movie shows!! Phenomenal? Or is it mere symbolic! I suggest that everybody voluntarily switch off lights in their house by 10 pm and sleep. After all, it will “not make any difference” .

Just now when we are organizing India tourism road shows in foreign capitals on grand scale and inviting people to visit our country, just when India is seen all around business conferences, just when we are shouting ourselves hoarse about our double digit growth, just when Chinese are perplexed by large number of Indian billionaires in Forbes list, here we are talking about why not to watch afternoon movie shows so that we can save little power here and there, in the financial hub of the country.

One might say I am harping on power cuts in Mumbai when for most of rural Maharashtra, power cuts are way of life and has been like than for a long time. Unlike Mumbai which had power distribution in private sector, rural Maharastra is at mercy of government controlled MSEB and has been reeling under long hours of power cuts for many years now. So it was only inevitable that citizens of Mumbai also face the heat .Untill 1992, Maharashtra was a power surplus state and was selling power to other states. After Enron debacle, the state government lost the plot entirely and power situation since then has been deteriorating. What was government doing and thinking all this while! The problem is not that we are suddenly consuming more power; problem is that we are not producing enough power. Problem is with inadequate planning. When you are growing as fast as 8-10% annually and when you are dreaming of becoming a superpower, you would know that you would need power. Industries need power, cities need power, agriculture needs power, and economy needs power. It can not happen that we suddenly wake up one day and find that there is a shortfall of 4000MW of power. The power deficit has been increasing every year and state Governments hardly did anything other than distributing power free of cost to framers who are anyway finding it hard not to take their own lives. Today state of Maharashtra is being called a failed state (by planning commision) and power cuts in Mumbai are just a stark and "dark" reminder of how bad things have gone. And what are politicians of Maharashtra doing? Those who are in power (pun intended) have no clues about what needs to be done and those who are not , are busy playing their divisive agenda around regional and emotive politics. But then it is not surprising. Politics is a business where voters are the consumers. As long as voters are happy being doled out emotional shit rolled with misplaced pride, politicians will keep serving them that. Who wants proverbial Bijli, Paani and Sadaks! We are happy as long as all the major airports (when they function), all the major roads (when they are built), all the major ports, all the major buildings and everything major is named after one great hero from past.

1 comment:

SNO said...

Nice post, Gaurav.

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