CAG report on MSPDCL inefficiency

IT would be gross injustice to those consumers who are footing electricity bills in case failure of the Manipur State Power Distribution Company Limited (MSPDCL) to recover pending dues becomes the reason for denial of regular power supply. Amid the much improved power supply scenario in the state for the past few years, the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India exposing that the company is yet to recover Rs 540.08 crore power bill including Rs 68.22 crore owed by various government institutions would be disheartening to the public, including many families strapped in financial constraints, who are toiling endlessly to be a part of the continuous evolution of development. With Manipur still bereft of a dependable power generation system compared to the ever increasing demand, the CAG report revealing that the company had shortfall of Rs 540.08 crore in power revenue collection up to March 2017 should cause panic to all sane persons. As non-clearance of power dues by the consumers was the chief factor that government representatives often claimed or explained for the people deprived of regular power supply in the pre pre-paid power meter system era, the CAG report clearly indicated that the MSPDCL is yet to justify the reason for bifurcation. It is obvious that if the company could not shake off its incompetency trademark sooner than later then it could be guaranteed that the state’s masses will face the haunting experience of the past when availability of electricity for only 4-5 hours a day and complete darkness during the load shedding schedules used to be the norm.

Those were the days when, barring the elected representatives and high officials, power supply was a priceless commodity for the common man. As it was unthinkable to remain groping in the dark, people were compelled to stock candles and kerosene while many families made it a point to complete preparation of meals before dusk. It was amid such sickening situation and that people took it with a pinch of salt whenever the then chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh, also in-charge of power, commented about the government plan to supply power for 24 hours a day. Indeed, the erstwhile government’s move to convert the existent electricity department to a corporation faced stiff resistance from the employees as they feared that the policy was intended towards privatisation of the department, and if materialised would ultimately lead to their retrenchment. Another reason for the employees’ apprehension was that they would encounter hostile consumers when insisted for clearing the power dues. In-spite of the objections raised and demonstrations staged by the employees coupled with stray ugly incidents when default consumers were pulled up during special drives, the government went ahead with the bifurcation of the department into two units and the result is there for all to experience now. People do not take electricity for granted these days for its many applications in lighting, homely appliances, computer and so on and with the deep effect it has taken will now difficult to imagine life without it. There is every reason why the company should strive to improve electricity supply with efficient distribution, reasonable price and reliable generation as life without electricity will send us back to the dark ages, literally.

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