Power reforms: learn from experience

Our erudite Prime Minister has not learnt any lesson from the NDA’s rout in the last hustings. He seems in no mood to review the failures of the P.V. Narasimha Rao government, in which he was the Finance Minister and a strong votary of the policies initiated at the behest of the World Bank. It was due to these policies that the Congress went to political oblivion for a decade.

Dr Manmohan Singh still seems to hold the view that corporatisation (say privatisation) of the state electricity boards is the panacea for all ills in the power sector. If the SEBs have failed to deliver, how would the proposed corporations produce miracles under the same dispensation?

The question is not of SEBs or corporations but the sovereignty of India that is being eroded under the dictates of the World Bank, the IMF and the WTO.

As for power reforms, we should draw lessons from the experience of Orissa, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Gujarat, and Delhi and particularly of Maharashtra where things have gone from bad to worse.

K. BARSAT, Sangrur



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While inaugurating the Jhakri power project in Himachal Pradesh, the Prime Minister has categorically stated that free power is not viable. There is a need to make power supply constant. Free power can hamper economic growth. It will also hinder industrial growth, which is already going through a bad phase in the state.
If the Punjab government wants to help poor farmers, it should provide them soft loans, cheap and quality seeds and fertilisers so that they can compete at the international level.



Though successive governments have stressed the need for reforms in power and labour sectors, the states have not implemented reforms under the Electricity Act, 2003, for unbundling of SEBs to increase efficiency and encourage private sector participation. The Prime Minister says that the states should not run hotels, fertiliser plants and that they should concentrate on investment in health, education, welfare schemes and law and order.

Sadly, no changes have been made in the labour laws. Why cannot the government take the initiative for generating more employment opportunities? Reforms are a must for socio-economic growth. Given the political will, India can overtake China and become a dominant player in the global market.

DEEPAK SARAF, Rampura Phul


India is primarily an agrarian economy. A majority of the population is employed and dependent on the agricultural sector. But the farmers seem to be taken for granted. A classic example is the condition of power supply in the rural areas.

Compared to the cities, the rural areas hardly get regular power supply even in the hot summer. Even the fuel and fertiliser prices keep on rising. Surely, the Indian farmer deserves a better deal.

RANDEEP MAHAL, Yamunanagar

Online banking blues

To provide faster customer service, the Indian banks are adopting the Core Banking Solution (CBS). Nationalised banks have hired a software package which is running well. However, the SBI and its seven associates have hired the software ‘Oracle’ from Tatas. This is full of complications and time consuming. The system is costly too and not user-friendly.

Moreover, unlike nationalised banks, the SBI group has neither given any training to its staff nor provided technical aid. The State Bank of Patiala is aggressively launching the latest software in all its branches resulting in deteriorating customer service.

Under the new system, all banking transactions are getting delayed. The staff is helpless in the absence of adequate technical know-how. Is it not wise for the bank authorities to go slow like other banks in converting its branches to CBS?


Interest on EPF

It is good that the Centre has decided to pay interest on EPF at the rate of 9.5 per cent for 2004-05. But the investors in PPF are left in the lurch. The interest on PPF has already been reduced by 1 per cent. The people who go in for PPF as a means of saving are those who, because of various restrictions, cannot adopt any other instrument for savings. The government should also consider removing the upper limit of investment per year.

Prof P.K. GUPTA, Bathinda

Repair the road

The condition of the Ludhiana-Dehlon-Ahmadgarh Road, which further leads to Sangrur and Patiala via Nabha, is very bad. There are big potholes and people and vehicle users are suffering a lot while using this road. The authorities should get this road repaired on priority.


Service tax

The Telecom Department is charging service tax on the whole amount of the telephone bill inclusive of the apparatus rent, surcharge etc. Service tax should be changed only on the amount of the calls made by the subscriber and not on telephone rent, surcharge etc. The Telecom authorities should hold consultations with the Finance Ministry and rectify this anomaly in public interest.

P.C. PURI, Chandigarh

Welfare of disabled

The Himachal Pradesh government has shown its concern for the welfare of disabled persons by constituting a welfare board for them under the chairmanship of the Chief Minister. I appeal to the Centre and other states to follow suit.

Such an empowered body will help redress the grievances of the disabled persons and undertake various welfare measures for them in an effective manner. The institution of Commissioner for persons with disabilities created by the Disability Act, 1995 does not have adequate powers to enforce its will. Experience suggests that the Commissioner’s instructions were seldom followed.

MANJIT SINGH, Chandigarh


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