Wednesday, July 19, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Power supply and populism

THE views expressed by Mr Anil Miglani (July 12) bring to focus the practice of political parties to commit huge public funds to certain sections of the people by way of revenue concessions in order to get their votes. This is nothing short of election bribery and should come under the category of election malpractices.

The point needs a public debate as the elections are again round the corner. Unless the majority of voters are somehow made aware of the implications of such slip-shod measures at the cost of the public exchequer, the decline of values in public life will continue unabated and the ultimate sufferers are the voters themselves, as well-set public utilities are being brought to the brink of disaster by such thoughtless moves.

If the government really wants to help the farmers, it should approach the Central Government for allowing direct export of its one-third farm produce to the international market. This will eliminate the wastage of foodgrains, reduce the slump in the market and earn a handsome income for farmers.

Regarding the theft of electricity, no methodical approach to tackle the menace in real terms seems to be in the pipeline. The introduction of electronic meters has helped the detection of pilferage in a few categories of consumers, but in the absence of a counter-check facility in the system, the detection work remains incomplete. There is an inherent weakness in the subtransmission and distribution system in sofaras it fails to monitor the total supplies transmitted over a circuit or the supplies made to an operation circle every month.


We are solely dependent on the energy recorded by the meters installed at the consumers’ premises, which are subject to many manipulations. In the absence of a counter-check facility, the actual losses taking place over a feeder or within a circle every month cannot be calculated.

The present assessment of losses due to pilferage is being made on the basis of a number of estimates and assumptions of the possible consumption by the unmetered categories of consumers, street-light connections, kundi connections and some government connections. As such, the pattern and location of areas of actual losses are not known. Without such information, how can the police stations proposed to be set up do this job? It may become another extra-territorial authority and may cause more problems than bring solutions unless the system is able to pinpoint the areas of high losses.

In order to overcome this inherent weakness in the system and to have an accurate assessment of the actual losses taking place in different areas, the Electricity Board had sanctioned an Energy Accountal Scheme in 1996, under which energy supplied to each operation circle was to be measured and compared with the energy billed by it every month.

The scheme envisaged the installation of high accuracy meters at all incoming points of power supply to each electricity circle. This would have highlighted the areas of major losses due to pilferage and would have given a great setback to the nexus facilitating pilferage. The connivance of the staff will automatically reduce once the responsibility for high losses starts getting fixed up. But the scheme has not seen the light of the day uptil now for reasons best known to the authorities.

former Engineer-in-Chief,

Examples of babu English

Mr Shriniwas Joshi’s write-up, “In defence of babu English” (July 8), was an interesting piece.

More than four decades ago I was posted in an office of the Rehabilitation Department. An inspector, in his report in a certain case, mentioned: “I have contacted Shrimati Municipal Committee.” The officer told him that it was wrong to use the title “Shrimati” before the Municipal Committee.

The inspector discussed the matter with the head clerk, who often indulged in smart, neatly turned jests. He quipped that he had somewhere read “Shri District Board”. If “shri” could be prefixed to the District Board, why not “shrimati” to the Municipal Committee. The inspector explained this position to the officer, who smiled and said that the head clerk had poked at him.

The word “depreciation” is often used in income-tax assessment cases. A very senior supervisor in an income-tax office had a superficial knowledge of English. Once, in his application for leave, he wrote: “I am suffering from depreciation.” In fact, he was down with depression.


New Electricity Bill

The Electricity Bill-2000, which the Government of India proposes to introduce in the coming Parliament session, intends to repeal the existing Acts — the Indian Electricity Act, 1910, the Electricity Supply Act, 1948, and the Electricity Regulatory Commission Act, 1998. The Bill proposes to unbundle the SEBs and privatise the entire power sector in one go. The Bill intends to create institutions which will have no accountability.

The position of the corporations which were created in certain states by trifurcating the SEBs has gone from bad to worse. In Orissa, the first state to implement the so-called reforms in 1996, the result has been disastrous. During the past four years the commercial profit of Rs 30 crore has been turned into a loss of nearly Rs 1000 crore. With the increase in the electricity rates by 66 per cent recently, the revenue collection has dropped to 54 per cent of the total billing. Concerned over the results of the reforms, the World Bank has again appointed yet another consultant to look into the matter and suggest remedial measures.

In Andhra Pradesh, where the so-called reform process was started last year, the annual losses have increased to an all-time high of around Rs 2200 crore. The chairman of the generation company has recently confirmed that the reforms process has completely failed in the state. With the tariff going up as high as Rs 7.05 per unit, the theft of power would be a more viable proposition for the consumers.

While the state governments are still finding it difficult to implement even the first stage reforms, the Central government should not be in a hurry to introduce the Electricity Bill-2000 and instead should opt for discussions with different sections of consumers and employee associations.


Legal aid

The Haryana Government’s reported decision to include the name of the Member-Secretary of the State Legal Services Authority in the list of ex-officio visitors, who are appointed by the government from time to time to visit every jail within their jurisdiction in the state as per the Punjab Jail Manual, is timely. Apparently, the decision in question would enable the Member-Secretary of the State Legal Services Authority to help those hapless prisoners who may be in need of some legal aid and thus fulfil a statutory obligation.

Himachal Pradesh would be well-advised to follow suit without any delay or dilly-dallying. Still better, if the state government authorises the Member-Secretary of every District Legal Services Authority to visit jails under his respective jurisdiction for the above-mentioned purpose. The step would make the people-friendly scheme all the more meaningful

Ambota (Una)


Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
120 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |