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
One of the facts is the real problem lies with mismanagement
of State Electricity Boards, excessive political
intervention in their functioning and no accountability
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 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.
also do not present any reassuring picture, firstly because
the nexus of vested interests is still at
large and active
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
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
that assets of the SEBs are being handed over to private players,
it is a few industrial houses that stand
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:
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.
how the nexus of vested interests have so far destroyed the
measures of generation, transmission, and
distribution of this most important economical
pilferage, wastage and loss of electricity and the effect
of these on its availability and cost.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.