Consumer Protection Council, Rourkela
Incredible India can be superior to the super powersB.Vaidyanathan
Does this sound like a statement of the Indian politician? Haven’t you heard the saying, “Will anyone dream his aunt to grow a moustache so as to become his uncle, because he is longing for it?” Whether an aunt becomes an uncle or not, India can definitely be stronger and healthier so as to guide and dictate to even the super powers. This dream of a strong India can materialise only when all the four pillars of our democracy, namely, the Legislature, the Executive, the Judiciary and the Press which hold the country aloft are totally revamped and strengthened.
It is a sad reality that our people tend to prove the adage “You get only what you deserve”. In this great nation of ours, everyone aspires to get everything “FREE” and this weakness or greed of the people (majority of them) is well taken advantage by the unscrupulous business and the politicians alike. Let us take the example of Delhi. In spite of the huge expenditure that is being incurred by the government for the upkeep of the national Capital Delhi, because of the huge exodus of people from poor neighbouring BIMARU states, it is as such struggling to meet the demands of rising population, in terms of housing, sanitation, education and so forth, our anticorruption crusader Kejriwal, without knowing the intricacies of the Electricity Regulatory Commissions nor the mechanism through which they determine the electricity tariff, made a mind boggling allegation that the tariffs are inflated by 50% to benefit the generating and distributing companies and he will bring down the tariff once elected to power and bring the culprits to book. After getting elected, instead of having the diligence and conviction to investigate and ascertain the fallacies associated with tariff fixing mechanism, he did what even a normal political leader would hesitate to do. Announced reduction of electricity tariff by half, not for everyone, but for those consuming less than 400 Units per month. Had he indeed detected the financial or other irregularities, as promised, the benefit would have flown to everyone and more importantly, all the Electricity Regulatory Commissions across the country would have become cautious in fixing the tariff. What Kejriwal did is better done by several Chief Ministers across the country, who manage the finances within the means of the state.
Let us now note the outcome of this profligacy:
“The domestic (household) sector is the biggest guzzler of electricity in Delhi, says an analysis by Delhi-based non-profit Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).
According to the newly released report of the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) on Load Generation Balance Report 2015-16, Delhi consumes more electricity than the states of Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Kerala, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Sikkim and all states of the North East. It also uses more power than all other metros put together.
Already, in Delhi, the household electricity consumption per capita is about 43 units per month against a national average of 25. Currently, domestic power tariff in Delhi is the lowest amongst all metros.
Anumita Roychowdhury, CSE’s executive director of research and advocacy, says, “While the AAP government in Delhi is only concerned with increasing electricity supply and subsidising consumption, it has not paid attention to the urgent need to also reduce consumption with controls and energy pricing. This is imposing enormous environmental and economic costs.”
She adds, “While it is important to improve energy access for all, especially the poor, steps are also needed to promote prudent and sustainable consumption of electricity.”
The AAP government gives power subsidy of 50 per cent for monthly consumption up to 400 KWh. Delhi’s average consumption is only about 181 Kwh, and nearly two-fifths of the households consume less than 100 KWh per month. The subsidy, thus, allows comfortable use of a number of appliances like air conditioners and cushions substantial household energy costs.
The CSE analysis also showed that Delhi’s peak demand has doubled in the last 10 years, growing faster than the population of the city. It registered an all-time high peak demand in June last year at 6,006 MW. This demand was higher than the combined highest ever peaks of Mumbai, Kolkata and Chandigarh. CEA projects Delhi’s peak will cross 6,300 MW this year and 12,000 MW by 2021.” (Down To Earth – June 2015)
As long as you have people falling for this type of trap set by anarchists, India will continue to suffer without any clue. Thus, the first pillar, the Legislature instead of strengthening, is weakening our democracy.
There is not much to write about the Executive, as this cadre is well known to have lost its spine long back to really do things which are the need of the hour and would rather do things to keep the political bosses happy. Mindless emasculation of the Central Consumer Protection Council and the distortion of the Consumer Protection Rules since 2006 are cases in point. So, the second pillar is existing like a dummy piece.
Let us see whether the powerful judiciary can save the day for India. Unfortunately our direct experience even with the highest judiciary is not enthusing. With a quantified loss of over Rs. 65,000 crores in the LPG under-weighment case, one would have expected the Supreme Court to write a judgement which is at least relevant to the grounds of appeal and facts of the case. Alas, it is not to be. Should we call it dishonest or corrupt, that the Court will not do justice even after series of petitions, Appeal, Review and finally the Curative. My deciphering is that the right order or judgement will be delivered only for the right person, who is in its fraternity. Such a judiciary is being castigated by so many as corrupt and inefficient and this does not augur well for a country which aspires to be a super power. Thus it is a serious concern that the third pillar is existing with its vitals having been eaten away.
The last pillar is supposed to be the free Press. Is it really free? Again this author’s experience clearly indicate that the Press with all its glitz and reach is lacking in spine or its will to highlight the incidents involving the powerful, especially the judiciary. While Arnab Goswami can brag about his raw courage or determination to expose those who do wrong in public life, till date Times Now or any other news channel could not have the courage and conviction to publicise the injustice dished out by the Supreme Court, in the LPG under-weighment case. As already stated in my earlier articles, even ‘The Hindu’ failed us. Unfortunately, the last pillar is also too weak to strengthen our democracy.
So, let us keep dreaming of leading the super powers, for all times to come. After all, it does not cost us anything.
(The author is the Chief Mentor, Consumer Protection Council, Rourkela)