Correct systemic wrongs
As the autumn sets in here in the Valley, people are made to believe that the administration and its machinery are geared up to face the coming winter. But come winter, everything goes haywire. This is what has been happening in the past and this season too things seem no different. So far this winter Kashmir is yet to get the kind of snowfall which will plunge entire Valley into chaos with communication links including the telephone and Internet facilities going down, but right now the main cause of people’s perennial frustration – the electricity – is already giving them a very tough time. While it has already disappeared from many parts, elsewhere it is the sweet choice and will of the Power Development Department which determines when people should get supply and when they will have to be without it. Though there is some curtailment schedule in place, but very rarely is it being followed. Those sitting high up in the administrative hierarchy, as usual, resort to the token lip-service without actually doing much to alleviate peoples’ problems.
Not a single day passes without people of some or the other locality in Srinagar as well as in the countryside complaining about the non-availability of electricity. Even though the situation on the power front has perennially remained precarious here, the concerned authorities have confined themselves to explaining that the available supply is too feeble against the mammoth demand. What makes them to think that people will be interested in knowing the figurative details about the supply and demand? These are technical terms and for the common masses hold very little or no meaning. People want regular supply and for this they are ready to pay. Now if the authorities are not able to supply them with electricity, it accounts for their failure and expecting people to have any sympathies for it will simply be asking for too much.
For years we have seen successive governments promising proverbial moon and stars to the people. But despite these boastful claims, things are not showing any improvement at all. Together with the scheduled power-cuts, people have to brave unannounced power-cuts for hours together. And capping the people’s hurt is the fact that nobody from the PDD or the government ever bothers to explain it to them why they are getting such a raw deal. People too share huge amount of blame for deliberately not paying the electricity dues. It is also true that power theft by way of open hooking and other means, like tampering with the power meters, is widespread here. But the unfortunate reality is that this power theft takes place with active help and connivance of the PDD’s field staff. It is needless to say that no theft is possible without the complicity of the PDD people. Moreover, it must be understood that not every household resort to stealing power. There is a good chunk of law-abiding people who do nothing unscrupulous, who pay bills regularly and in time. Why should this section of society be subjected to suffering for someone else’s fault?
Moreover, it goes without saying that the biggest defaulters on account of electricity tariff are the government agencies. Although nothing can justify anyone’s default in paying for the consumed electricity, however, it is also a genuine question to ask why is it that while the ordinary people are being pressed to pay, no such measure is initiated against the defaulting government agencies. In fact the PDD will do itself a lot of good if it initiates measures to recover the outstanding electricity dues from the government agencies, for this will set a correct precedent for everyone to follow. Of course the huge amount of money outstanding with government departments will also give a big fillip to the PDD’s revenue. If the PDD is not in a position to provide electricity to the people, it should simply confess so instead of going for big lies. On its part, government too is morally responsible to the people. It should ensure transparency of bureaucracy and those officials who don’t stand by their pledges and promises to the people must be taken to task. Unless and until the systemic wrongs are corrected, expecting any betterment in the situation will be foolish.