Looking beyond Punjab’s power crisis

Apropos of the editorial "Punjab without power" (July 26), the transmission and distribution losses of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) are in the range of 25 per cent (according to the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission) and not as mentioned.

The assertion that "disconnection is seldom resorted to even when consumer fails to pay" suggests that there are huge pending bills against the consumers in PSEB. This is factually incorrect. The PSEB's collection efficiency is the highest in the country. During the last financial year, bill amount to the tune of Rs 5,848 crore was collected. We cannot expect better collection from a consumer base, which ranges from a poor man to a big industrialist.

As regards overstaffing, all activities from planning and execution to maintenance of generation, transmission and distribution are being carried out departmentally in PSEB whereas almost all SEBs/utilities get their jobs executed through turnkey/outsourcing at a higher cost. The PSEB has about 10,000 surplus labour from multipurpose irrigation projects like the Bhakra Nangal, the Pong and the Ranjit Sagar Dam etc., which it had to absorb after completion of these projects.




The editorial's concern about pricing of electricity below cost price is correct. The irrational tariff structure and freebies without compensating PSEB was the legacy of successive state governments which resulted in the PSEB's poor financial health but things improved after the PSERC was constituted. The gap between cost of supply and average revenue has come down from 110 paise per unit to 30 paise per unit in the last two years.

We are for major power reforms, but our proposals have not been implemented by vested interests in the PSEB and the Punjab government. The present power crisis is the direct result of the power policy (1991) under which the financial support by the Centre and the state for power development was withdrawn.

H.S. BEDI, Gen Secy., PSEB Engineers' Assn., Patiala


I do not fully agree with the view that the power crisis is because of the PSEB's failure to contract additional power in time. There is shortage of power in all the northern states and Punjab is no exception. The daily power demand in the state in this paddy season has exceeded 1,350 lakh units due to the failure of monsoon and the total supply of power never exceeded 1200 lakh units resulting in power cuts.

The PSEB has been purchasing over 400 lakh units from Central projects/other states at a cost of Rs 12 to 15 crore daily to avert major power crisis. The government may not bail out PSEB on this account.

Reforms in the PSEB are needed but these should be based on the experience of other states; these should not be on the static pattern of formation of private companies in the distribution sector and separate companies for generation and transmission.

The Centre has extended the deadline for unbundling the electricity boards for one year and the UPA's Common Minimum Programme states that profit-making companies will not be generally privatised.

V.K. GUPTA, Ropar


Apropos of the editorial "Punjab without power" (July 26), only substantial reforms in power sector can pull the state out of the present power crisis. With the help of public support, trade unions of PSEB employees must be prevailed upon to accept reforms. The trade unions should be made partners in implementing decisions in this regard.

The PSEB must answer the question: "Why did it fail to contract additional power in time? The state may be facing an acute financial crisis but the government will have to ensure that the residents of the state are not starved of water, air and light. The government should take bold and pragmatic measures to tide over the power crisis.

It is now clear that no nation can be branded as a powerful nation merely because it possesses nuclear weapons. In fact, harnessing of nuclear energy is more important for a nation state to become a developed one. Can't the Centre think of setting up nuclear power plants to help India become a developed country in the real sense? Meanwhile, the use of non-conventional sources of energy may be encouraged among the people.



I don't know about the preferential treatment to Patiala regarding power cuts. As for power consumption, Patiala, with no big industry, can't be compared with Ludhiana or any other industrial city in Punjab.

As the PSEB's main office is at Patiala, this city might be enjoying some relaxation from power cuts. The Punjab Chief Minister, who resides here, is doing his best to meet the power crisis by changing the business/office working hours and banning the use of air-conditioners in the government offices. I feel the government would be able to help resolve the problem soon.

P. SINGH, Patiala

Preserve Corbusier tapestries

THE report “Tapestries removed from the court of Chief Justice” (July 31) has appropriately drawn the attention of the people concerned. In fact, these are not ordinary tapestries designed by Le Corbusier. These are pieces of art, contained in wall-to-wall hangings in the originally built nine court rooms, woven under expert supervision in floral design, but throwing an idea to be read, interpreted and conceived.

In one of the hangings, the scales of justice are shown to be balanced not by equal weight but by shifting the hold to one side, an idea for which Mr E.M.S. Namboodiripad, the late Chief Minister of Kerala and a well-known Marxist leader, was punished on a charge of contempt of court when he said that our justice delivery system helps the rich and not the poor.

These pieces of art have never caught the eye of the men at the helm of affairs. These have rather suffered because of the indifference and lack of aesthetic and heritage preservation sense. When air-conditioning ducts were being fitted, one hanging was given a cruel cut in the centre instead of shifting the opening of the duct, leaving a bad scar on its face. These speak a lot about the attitude of the High Court authorities.

The difficulty is that judges enter the court rooms from behind, from the side of the chambers, and do not get an occasion to have a look at these pieces of art. Let us make an effort to preserve our art and heritage.

J.S. TOOR, Advocate, Punjab & Haryana, High Court, Chandigarh


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