Power for All ?

Union Power Minister, R.K. Singh is seriously concerned whether J&K Power Development Department will be able to deliver what is expected of it under Prime Minister Modi’s much propagated scheme of ‘Power for All’ by the year 2018. Under this scheme NDA Government has promised to bring electricity to all villages and all households in the country. The position on the ground in our State in this regard is that out of 102 un-electrified villages in the State, 41 fall in remote and hilly areas of Kishtwar, 18 in mountain locked Leh, 31 in hilly Kargil and five in Bandipora and Kupwara districts including Gurez. Apart from this, there were 31,000 families, which were living in isolated mountainous area, who will be covered under `Soubaghaya’ scheme of the Centre Government.
The Union Minister for Power, accompanied by senior echelons of the Union Power and other Ministries visited Srinagar recently where he held a high powered meeting with the senior bureaucrats and top leadership to apprise himself and the accompanying team of the factual situation about power generation and distribution in the State especially the status of the Centrally sponsored schemes for which enormous funds have been committed and which must be brought to completion by 2018. Regrettably, the Power Minister has doubts whether the State will be able to meet the deadline taking into account the speed with which work is done. He has focused on administrative lethargy as the main reason for inability of the Government to meet the target. At a high-level review of progress on power projects and other schemes with top brass of Union Power Ministry, NHPC, Rural Electrification Corporation (REC) and State Government officials, the Power Minister is reported to have directed that powers of taking decisions on the projects should be given at lower level for expediting the projects. It is not necessary that all files should go to the top level whereas officers at lower level have been empowered to take the final call in various matters.
It will be noted that more often than not, we have been almost raising the same issues about the inability of the Government to keep the time schedule to which the Union Minister for Power has referred. Why should Centrally sponsored projects remain incomplete within the stipulated time when all pre-requisites like funds, technical advice, skilled and unskilled labour and other logistic support all are available with very little effort? The question is when States like Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh have been able to complete at least 99 per cent of the work on Centrally sponsored schemes, why J&K has not been able to move beyond 57 percent. We have often said that inefficiency, lack of sense of responsibility and accountability and above all lackadaisical attitude of the Government all combine to put a spike in the wheel of progress in this sector of economic development. Actually, the attitude of the Government and the bureaucracy in the State should have been very different than what it is because of the geography and climate of the State which must have uninterrupted power supply if we want that our industries should progress and life should change. Why are big power companies unwilling to bid for power generation works in J&K, asked the Union Minister. The reason is that they often complain about the delayed payment by the State Government. The Union Minister minced no words about the inefficient manner in which metering and revenue realization works are concerned. We lag behind almost all the State of the country in this particular task. In his meeting with the State Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister, Dr. Nirmal Singh who is also holding the charge of power in the State, the Union Minister laid stress on expediting the completion of work before the end of 2018. This review has come in time and if the instructions are followed in right earnest, there is still the hope that the projects will be completed on time and the State will find its place among such states of the country as have been provided with 100 per cent power supply to its people.