Friday, June 23, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Causes for PSEB crisis

THE analysis of the PSEB (“Will someone stand up for PSEB ?” Oct 16th) has given in detail the views on tariff, losses, inefficiency and thefts, and concluded that the salvation lies in unbundling and privatisation.

It is a hard fact that we learn from history that mankind learns nothing from history. The first experiment on unbundling and privatisation of power boards was started in 1996 in Orissa where the model dictated by the World Bank was forcibly thrust as a precondition for giving loans. After four years, despite repeated tariff hikes, the net result was that the Orissa Government’s reform and restructuring programme was on the “verge of collapse” and the GRIDCO was on the verge of being referred to the Board of Industrial and Financial Reconstruction as a sick unit. The major “gains” of the World Bank package is, apart from huge tariff hikes, a massive debt burden that has to be serviced in dollars.

The blue-eyed boy of the USA and the World Bank, Mr Chandrababu Naidu, went the whole hog in implementing the Bank’s package of reforms in February, 1999, with the bait of a 1000 million dollar aid. The experiment has boomeranged. The “independent” regulatory commission of Andhra Pradesh declared a domestic tariff of 705 paisa per unit (Yes, indeed, seven rupees five paisa) for consumption beyond 400 units which forced Mr Naidu to roll it back to 525 paisa and make up the loss to TRANSCO in cash to the tune of Rs 286 crore. A.P is back to square one: to avoid political meddling, an independent regulator is set up, and when the regulator determines tariffs with astronomical hikes, the politician steps in to roll it back. Incidentally, even now the domestic tariff in Punjab is 263 paisa per unit and the debate raging is whether the hike should be 15 per cent (40 paisa per unit) or higher.

  The World Bank reforms package for the UPSEB envisaged an agricultural tariff hike of over 600 per cent while in Haryana the Bank package has failed to revive the power sector.

The analysis carried in The Tribune misses out completely on the fact that the working of the PSEB is to be regulated by the Statutory Provisions of the Electricity (Supply) Act, 1948, which firstly stipulates in Section 49 that tariff is to be decided autonomously by the PSEB and, secondly, that a return of 3 per cent has to be ensured. It is the wilful, illegal and deliberate violation of this statute by politicians that is responsible for the financial crisis in the PSEB. If the reforms process as advocated is implemented, the minimum return will be hiked to 16 per cent from 3 per cent and tariff hikes will be well over 100 per cent (as in the case of AP).


Not a spiritual journey

The report “A spiritual rail journey” appeared on the front page if The Tribune dated June 13. The scheme of running a train with “langar” round the clock, Gurbani recitation on T.V. and provision of “amrit sanchar” might be a source of publicity or money-minting for the organisers, but it has nothing spiritual in it. Those who have ever tried to understand the Sikh scriptures and tried to know as to what spirituality stands for, according to the Sikh Gurus, will simply cut a sorry figure at this scheme.

There are hundreds of Gurbani quotations denouncing pilgrimage to religious centres for the sake of spirituality. Therefore, this scheme is basically a non-Sikh practice. The Gurbani recitation, without understanding its meaning, message and its practical implementation, is of no use.

There is enough of Gurbani recitation in gurdwaras and homes of Sikhs through various mediums. But it does not affect their life-style. The entire exercise is rendered fruitless, waste of time and money. Mere roaming around the gurdwaras, taking “karah-parshad”, “langar” and holy water from various “sarovars” do not do any good to the devotees. This is not my opinion it was the firm belief of the Sikh Gurus as contained in the Gurbani. How would the participants of this journey be benefited spiritually then?

The 51 “akand paths” to be arranged at Hazoor Sahib from June 24 to 26 is a hoax. Only one “akhand path” is possible at one place in 48 hours. Just placing 50 additional volumes of the holy “granth” and making 50 readers (pathies) sit to drive their sights on their respective holy book in accordance with the voice they hear from the one who reads loudly, does not do any additional good, if at all it is taken for granted against the teachings of the gurus. It would be one “akhand path” and not 51. Generally, there are no listners. If at all there happen to be some, they will listen to only one recitation. Why this waste of time and money?

New Delhi

Clinics or shops?

Of late, there have mushroomed many private medical clinics in Chandigarh. These clinics earn more money through exuberant room rent, sometimes equivalent to that of five-star hotels, than their medical bills. However, the kind of medical service they provide can well be gauged from the following painful experience that I had today.

A close relation was operated upon for the removal of a tumour in her uterus. Soon after the operation was over, a nurse (as it appeared from the dress, though her behaviour was totally unprofessional) came out from the OT with a bowl containing the large-sized removed tumour. Surprisingly enough, first she took it to the girl sitting on the reception counter and showed it to her while giggling loudly. Then she took it into the patient’s room where quite a few relatives of the person operated upon were sitting. And showed it to everyone, including the patient, which is highly unethical. Though the patient could digest the site of that lump of “meat”, my wife had a severe nausea feeling and fainted for a moment. She had to be taken out of the room with my physical support.

I wonder whether the health authorities of the Chandigarh Administration ever make any surprise checks on these money-making medical shops, to look into their wild claims and the maintenance of professional ethics/competence.

Opened in various residential areas, these shops put their immediate neighbours to a lot of inconvenience as well. For the ever-increasing parking problem, which every Chandigarh residential lane has started experiencing, increases many a fold where such shops exist.


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