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Call it truism or by some other name the basic fact remains that in the 21st Century only those nations would be able to economically forge ahead in their development, who through their intrinsic genius dint and prudent managerial skills are able to derive the ratio of maximum output per unit of electricity generated, transmitted and distributed at the least cost.

The Indian situation can be best described in one sentence as one of the most power starved country brought to this situation by prodigally frittering away this scarce national resource with steady decline of professionalism, rampant corruption, and ever growing political interference. Despite impressive growth in various sectors and the crucial importance of a basic economic input such as electricity, nothing has been done to introduce efficiency and accountability in this sector.

In Tinsukhia Electric Supply Co. Ltd. V. State of Assam(1989) the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court held that electricity generated and distributed by the private undertakings constitute ' material resource of the community" therefore it is the duty of the State to ensure that it is available to every one at least possible cost. If India is not able to derive the ratio of maximum output per unit of electricity generated, transmitted and distributed at the least cost, it would not be able to economically forge ahead. But unfortunately the so called 'reforms' where so ever undertaken do not assure this. How this perception has developed that the material resource of the community can not be best handled in the hands of the State, is a mystery. After more than a decade of trying reforms, it is time to take stock.

One of the facts is the real problem lies with mismanagement of State    Electricity Boards, excessive political intervention in their functioning and no    accountability
 State Electricity Boards were deliberately and systematically destroyed by    the nexus of vested interests for their petty personal gains. Their Collection    efficiency is as low as 85 per cent in some cases. A 45 per cent T and D loss,    combined with 85 per cent collection efficiency means that an SEB collects    revenue on only 46.75 per cent of the power generated by the system. No    commercial entity can be viable if it collects revenue on less than half the    output it produces. It is not surprising, therefore, that most SEBs are    bankrupt.
 And who are the people who do not pay? It is not just the farmers, but the    state machinery itself does not pay- police, government departments,    bureaucrats, political leaders and influential rich consumers.
 The reforms also do not present any reassuring picture, firstly because the    nexus of vested interests is still at large and active
 The role model adopted in unbundling of State Electricity Boards and    handing over generation, transmission and distribution to private sector    simply can not make available this important economic input at the least cost
 The manner in which these reforms are being implemented there are clear    indication that the generation, transmission and distribution of this material    resource of community shall pass on to a few big industrial houses
 The way that assets of the SEBs are being handed over to private players, it    is a few industrial houses that stand to gain.
 Guarantees by state governments, counter-guarantees by the centre and    escrow accounts are not substitutes for properly designed policies.

The issue is not whether electricity is generated, transmitted and distributed by a government utility or a private utility. The issues is quality, quantity and price of electricity and the quality of the services being given to consumers. Therefore, the issue is transparency and the quality of policy framework in which any institutions in the sector will have to operate.

It is high time that people of this country need urgently to act to be effective and for this the members of informed civil society have to play an important role. They should : Create awareness in the public:
 that electricity is the material resource of the community and it is the right of    community that it should be supplied to it at the least cost.
 that how the nexus of vested interests have so far destroyed the measures    of generation, transmission, and distribution of this most important    economical input.
 against pilferage, wastage and loss of electricity and the effect of these on    its availability and cost.
 about the need of becoming 'effective' so that this basic developmental input    is no more exploited by the nexus of vested interests so that it is available    to them on least cost.

Create awareness in the Regulators :
 that as independent Statutory Regulators they are duty bound to ensure    that electricity is made available to the community at the least cost and    therefore they should develop norms for costs of generation,    transmission and distribution and losses and should not make the    community to pay for the inefficiency and malpractices of the agencies    involved in generation, transmission and distribution.
 that they should scrupulously ask the State Governments to pay for the    subsidies that are intended to be allowed to certain class of consumers    rather than strangling other consumers.
 that they must make effective arrangements for interacting with consumers    so as to create a strong base for checking unfair practices by the    distributors. Create awareness amongst Administrators & People's    Representatives
 that if maximum output of electricity generated and distributed at least cost    is not ensured India shall not be able to forge ahead economically in the    21st Century and therefore there is urgent need of keeping electricity    beyond personal and political considerations
 that there is urgent need of creating strong atmosphere against pilferage    and wastage and in favor of prompt payment and therefore high and mighty    and government departments should take a lead in setting example before    general public.

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