Tuesday, September 3, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Putting power sector on a sound footing

In his article “The state of power sector reforms” (Aug 27), Mr Balraj Mehta has rightly maintained that the time has come to accept the Indian alternative for development of power sector as suggested by the National Working Group on Power comprising eminent power engineers.

The Electricity Bill, 2001 which was introduced in the Lok Sabha and is presently with the Standing Committee on Energy of the Lok Sabha is to facilitate the privatisation of power sector repealing the Indian Electricity Act, 1910, and the Electricity Supply Act, 1948, and thereby denying efficient service for consumers at just rates.

During the ongoing Ninth Five-Year Plan, the private sector has failed to achieve a generation target of 17588 MW and had added only 5061 MW. Likewise the country has also failed to achieve the generation target of 40245 MW and added only 19015 MW capacities due to choking of flow of domestic investment in the development of power sector.

Rural electrification has become the unintentional casualty of the reform process because this activity is not commercially attractive and private companies cannot be expected to be very enthusiastic about rural electrification, as has been the experience in the states where the reform process has been undertaken.

The Electricity Bill, 2001, is clearly biased against rural India because as per Section 5 of Bill, the distribution of power in rural areas shall be the responsibility of panchayat raj institutions or rural co-operatives, while the power supply in urban areas shall be the responsibility of private companies. This is for the first time that a divide is being made between rural and urban India. We overlook the fact that we are yet to electrify 80,000 villages where there is no infrastructure to provide power.


The Electricity Bill, 2001, expects the power utilities to run on commercial lines and to do away the social objectives, which we have seen in the last 50 years. A secure supply of electricity at an affordable price is not the social benefit, it is also the vital element for economic development of the country. The reforms so for undertaken by the state government have failed miserably on every count. Reality does not confirm the rosy picture being painted by the Central Government on the power sector reforms.

The Government of India, after witnessing the dismal failure of the so-called “reforms” in every state where the World Bank model was adopted, has now embarked upon an omnibus legislation forcing reforms on every state. The unbundling of State Electricity Boards in generation, transmission and distribution companies has only added to the problems of the people.

It is time we gave a serious thought to the suggestions of eminent power engineers so that the derailed power sector can be brought back on a sound footing.

V. K. GUPTA, Ropar

Change domicile rule

The demand for change in the domicile rules by medicos in Punjab (August 23) is reasonable and needs to be accepted by the state government. Candidates from other states take advantage of lax rules and regulations in the criteria for residence certificate required for admission to various professional colleges in Punjab and thereby deprive Punjab's candidates of the number of available seats in Punjab.

Candidates from Punjab cannot avail themselves of the chance of admission to professional colleges of other states due to their rigid criteria for residence certificate. The Punjab government should consider it with an open mind and amend the criteria for residence certificate for the benefit of candidates of the state.

OM PARKASH, Chandigarh


Elusive brigand

Apropos of the editorial “Veerappan strikes again” (Aug. 27), a smuggler, poacher and ruthless criminal like Veerappan, who has killed more than 120 people and 1,000 elephants, is being turned into a Tamil nationalist only because of the lack of political will and an unhealthy rivalry of the two state governments of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Two years back, when this notorious brigand abducted the Kannada filmstar Rajkumar, the Supreme Court had passed strictures against the Karnataka Government for abdicating its responsibility of catching a criminal. But once Mr Rajkumar was released, Veerappan (as also the apex court's instructions) was as good as forgotten by the law enforcement agencies.

By and large, this has been the mindset of our official machinery i.e. devising ad hocist measures to “somehow get out of a predicament”. Instead of taking strong and long-term measures against the corrupt and the criminal, we have rather encouraged them for their “deals” and “dialogues” and making a hero of the most detestable and cold-blooded criminals. Ironically, two years back, Veerappan's ransom deal included dropping cases against him and allowing him to contest elections. There are also instances when in the name of bringing proclaimed criminals to the “national mainstream”, our politicians have not only withdrawn serious criminal cases against them but have even offered them tickets for contesting the elections.

In such a week-kneed political climate in the country, one doubts whether Veerappan or many others like him operating in the country, would ever be captured, much less punished and got rid of.



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