Abject powerlessness!

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“Where is the government? If there was one in place then we wouldn’t be faced with the kind of hardships we are facing.” These angry remarks have become somewhat common place here. Particularly with the onset of winter season here, when the entire political hierarchy packed its baggage and headed to warmer Jammu for a six-month retreat, and the already low administrative efficiency in Valley took a nose-dive, people’s anger with the government has been surging with each passing day.

From the Governor’s office, while the political rhetoric about transparency and accountability as well as strict adherence to completing designated works within stipulated time-frames without causing hardship to the people is growing shriller by the day, yet people see that these assertions are is not changing much on the ground. Indeed fact of the matter is that the bureaucracy is not giving a damn to what the political executive says. The officialdom here has its own agenda and culture, it is, as ever, in no mood to change, political diktats to the contrary notwithstanding!

Take for instance the construction work on two flyover projects in the city. Despite having repeatedly missed countless deadlines, the work on these projects continues at such a tardy pace that it is highly unlikely that they may get completed anytime soon. It seems that those at the helm are not at all concerned about the continued hardships faced by the people and commuters here on daily basis in the face of long detours they have to take in the absence of these important flyovers.

Another major problem pushing people to top of their anger mountains every now and then is the lack of electricity. Though Power department is yet to formally publicize its curtailment schedule, but the regular power-cuts are being affected every two hours throughout entire Valley. In the city, even the metered areas have to face hour-long power cuts after every two hours of supply – one can only imagine what would be the situation in non-metered areas as well as in the countryside!

While the political executive – this time the Governor’s office — is under both moral as well as constitutional oath to work for the public welfare and do everything to alleviate their problems, the Power department is certainly doing everything to torment and victimize the people of Kashmir. People too are at fault on numerous counts, particularly on issues of power theft and non-payment of tariffs. But without exonerating them, one could easily locate culpability of Power department in these areas as well. If people do not pay electricity tariff, the laid down rules prescribe certain line of action against defaulters. Now if the department does not take that action, who is to be blamed?

Similarly, power theft, which certainly is rampant here, isn’t possible without the active help and connivance of the employees of the department. Indeed they are the ones who encourage, patronize and even conceal it for a price they exact from the ‘power thieves’ month after month. If the department is not able to restrain and discipline its own lot, why accuse people only? It is time to ask and decide – who is the bigger thief – the one who steals electricity or the ones who teache people how to steal it, and then also guard them against reprisals?

The power crisis here cannot be explained only in terms of the difference in supply and demand, for such an analysis is faulty and too simplistic. Isn’t it a fact that the huge transmission and distribution losses are also a big contributing factor to the paucity of supply? Similarly the biggest defaulters on tariff are various government departments and agencies including security installations. While common people are mercilessly blamed for theft, how does one explain similar actions by the police stations and paramilitary forces’ camps and security bunkers, who do it through open hooking in wide public gaze? There are so many questions that can be raised and should be asked, and the government must try and reason out an answer for each. The solution to the problems faced by Valleyites on power-front lies in the answers to all these questions.

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