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Editorial
For God’s sake perform, or perish
Mounting public unrest over Govt’s failure to manage power shortage is fraught with dire consequences
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Only he could have done it. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, consciously or unconsciously, has achieved something which none of his ten predecessors in office could do. The third-generation Abdullah has the dubious distinction of heading and leading an administrative setup that has succeeded in pushing this state into deeper darkness even as the winter had given way to spring season and the summer was just around. Water level in the rivers has been rising as naturally as always. But we are told that the hydel power projects were ‘misbehaving due to water shortage’. This inverted logic is the only excuse the government has for justifying irrational unscheduled load shedding these days when the power supply position was supposed to be improving, certainly not deteriorating, with the change of season. The truth, however, lies somewhere else and the government has been doing its worst to conceal it from the harassed consumers.

It is an admitted fact that there is a chronic gap between the demand and availability of electric power in J&K. It is, however, a different question though that it is the government itself which is responsible for perpetuating, in fact increasing, this shortfall from year to year. Rationally speaking, the power supply position ought to have improved, not worsened, with the passage of winter when the rivers go nearly dry. Seasonal shortfall is by and large taken in stride by the consumers in the hope that better days were ahead. Instead, the onset of spring season which is coming to end has seen unprecedented shortfall in power supply affecting a wide spectrum of daily life.

Two factors come to mind immediately: That there is utter mismanagement in the distribution of power because the supplier (government) lacks the will and ability to manage energy shortage and that the political executive is clueless or disinterested in minimising its adverse impact upon consumers. More serious shortages in the recent past have been better managed by predecessor governments. But the consumers today have been thrown to the wolves. The duration and frequency of unscheduled load shedding over the past one month is unprecedented. Such terrible mess has never been seen in any other regime.

One had expected that Omar Abdullah would find time and inclination to attend to serious administrative business of his government after he had virtually abdicated his more arduous political commitments like getting us freed from the yoke of the AFSPA, punishing the guilty security personnel accused of killing innocent citizens, restoring rule of law, giving freedom of expression to political opponents of the establishment and restoring state’s internal autonomy. From what was being reported after the recent meeting of the National Conference working committee it is obvious that the unfulfilled commitments of the 2008 assembly elections were being dusted off to be marketed again in the next (2014) elections. Fate of Omar’s other high sounding promises--- attracting massive private and public sector investment, creating jobs for the swelling ranks of unemployed youth, improving infrastructure in the state and providing an efficient administrative-delivery system ---have all fallen by the way side over the past over four years.

This government has failed to honour any of its major public commitments. On the contrary, corruption up to the highest level and gross incompetence has become its hallmark. This devastating phenomenon is reflected more tellingly in the government’s failure in the power sector. Never before have consumers been subjected to such harassment and on such a huge scale. This is nothing but mismanagement and poor leadership at the top. Management of essential sectors like power and health should have been the government’s top priority which it is not.

Apathy and apparent unconcern at higher levels, especially at the political level of the government, can no longer be hidden behind lame excuses trotted out to cover up gross inefficiency. This government has virtually reduced itself to a huge burden upon the public conscience. Resort to highhanded tactics to suppress the voice of victims of maladministration is always counterproductive. Miserable failure on the power front looks to be like hitting the consumers as the proverbial last straw on the camel’s back. The unrest on this account has the potential of spiralling out of control.


News Updated at : Wednesday, April 10, 2013
 
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