Sunday, April 24, 2005

In a really bad state

(Ok, this post is about power cuts, so if you think this is incoherent, please excuse.)

Many of the readers of this blog, I am sure, have the extreme misfortune of living in the state of Maharashta (outside of Bombay). In that case, you suffer 24 hours of power cuts a week, with additonal cuts whenever it rains. Perhaps you are lucky and have an inverter/generator at home, and so are not affected by this very severely. But I doubt that stops you from being very, very angry at the Maharashtra Supply of Electricity Board (MSEB). You are, I expect, hopping mad and raring to have a go at that selfsame organisation.

Ok, so here's the thing. I don't doubt that the MSEB is a dinosaur that is just crying to be privatised. And sure, its full of inefficient, incompetent cretins who can't tell a transformer from a Continuum Transfunctioner. But I have realised that the current power situation cannot be blamed on these gents, in all fairness.The real culprits, IMHO, are the $#@^&%s in the Government of Maharashtra.

The current power crisis is the direct result of Maharashtra's complete and utter failure to increase it's power generation capacity in the past fifteen years (Sorry, have exams on, can't do research, so no statistics available). That can't be blamed on the MSEB, it's the monkeys we vote for who take those decisions. It is, of course these same monkeys who bought their seats with irresponsible promise of free power to farmers (farmers now get ten hours of power a week). And who put the state in a serious financial crisis. Oh, and does anyone remember the high power commission set up to investigate the role of windmills in reducing rainfall, thereby putting an important power source in jeopardy? That was the Maharshtra Government too.

So what, you say. Corrupt incompetent politicians are nothing new. But the evidence suggests that we in Maharashtra have been cursed with a crop of losers who would make the residents of 1 Anne Marg shudder. (Sure Bihar is hell, but it was pretty screwed up when the Yadavs inherited it. Maharashtra used to be India's no. 1 state.) Not only do our rulers show a stunning lack of ability to deal with the problems that are threatening the state, but they don't even try. The state is in the grips of a power crisis, and what is the government's number 1 priority? Extraditing James Lane. Parts of the state are in darkness for a whole day each week, and what takes up our dear Home Minister's time? Shutting down dance bars. Power cuts lead to crores of rupees of losses while businesses leave the state, and where is our beloved chief minister? Promoting his nincompoop son's movie career. The state is in serious financial trouble, and and what are our MLAs doing? Doubling their own salaries.

So what can be done about the situation? I don't know, it seems to me that nothing short of a revolution will do the trick. But maybe one thing that can be done is to subject Mumbai to the same power cuts we go through (or even better, six hours a day seven days a week). Not only will this free up loads of power to alleviate our troubles, but it will also significantly reduce the administration's enthusiasm for load shedding. (Having people who take decisions about power cuts sitting in an area with 24 hours of uninterrupted power supply seems like a recipe for disaster to me.) Or even better, the people of Mumbai, never famous for taking shit lying down, may just riot and kill a few ministers. (What an act of public service that'll be!)

But I suggest you don't get your hopes up. Nothing will be done about the situation, and next summer we'll have eight hours of cuts.

We're thinking about moving to Goa.

(PS: While I was writing this post, the lights went out twice.)


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