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Erratic Power Supply Lands In Court, HC Issues Notice

Which ones are the genuine consumers and which are the ones that come under power theft ? Image Credit: Sangai Photo

IMPHAL, Jan 20: Acting on a PIL filed against erratic power supply in Manipur, a Division Bench of Gauhati High Court, Imphal Bench comprising of Justices BK Sharma and Asok Potshangbam has issued a notice of motion returnable within four weeks.

The PIL was jointly filed by Prof Amar Yumnam of Manipur University, Associate Professor Dr Angomcha Bimol Akoijam of JNU and Editor of the Imphal Free Press Pradip Phanjoubam, conveyed a press release issued by the Human Rights Law Network.

The petitioners contended that bonafide consumers of electric power in Manipur are supplied power only for about 3 to 4 hours in a day while neighboring States like Mizoram, Nagaland and Assam get 24 hours of uninterrupted power supply.

Whereas the peak hour power requirement in Manipur is 170/180 MW, the State could afford to purchase only about 90 MW from power stations like NEEPCO and NHPC, out of which 80 per cent are lost every month due to power theft and tripping.

Again, as against Rs 11.5 crores spent by the State every month in purchasing power, the Power Department could collect only Rs 1.5 crores from consumers due to systematic failure and widespread corruption in the department.

Although Manipur has immense hydro power potential to the tune of 2000 MW, at the moment the power sector of the State is by and large ‘˜powerless’ to meet even domestic requirement of around 1,74,127 consumers (all inclusive). The licensee so far has utilized only about 5 per cent. Tapping of 60 per cent of the potential will serve all purposes in addition to earning a handsome revenue, the petitioners asserted.

Per capita power consumption in Manipur is very low. As per records, per capita power consumption during 2004-05 was 146 KWH as against the all India average of 354 KWH.

In the absence of any regulatory mechanism to check power theft and streamline electricity bill collection, the State exchequer has been spending Rs 10 crores every month as premium payments to cover the inefficiency and total failure in the administration of Power Department by the Govt. This is a big drain on the State exchequer.

While defaulting consumers are being given the advantage of paying subsidized bills, the Government has been penalizing regular payees by subjecting both to equal access and equal darkness.

Failure to provide reliable, safe and uninterrupted electric supply to citizens is violative of Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

The PIL prayed that the authorities be directed for providing reliable, safe and uninterrupted electric power to all bonafide consumers of Manipur within a specific period of time together with an appropriate direction for providing electric power for 8 hours a day during the interim.

It also pleaded to issue an appropriate direction to comply with the obligations imposed by the Joint Electricity Regulatory Commission of Manipur and Mizoram so as to provide reliable electricity, both in terms of quality and quantity, to the bonafide consumers of Manipur.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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