Friday, May 22, 2009

"DARKNESS OF VIDARBHA " Times of India exposes truth

*-Why the light has gone out of our lives

*-Politicos helpless in solving power problems

*-‘Politicians are the culprits’

*-MSEDCL favouring Pen

*-Vidarbhaty erupts over power woes

"DARKNESS OF VIDARBHA " Times of India exposes truth

1-Why the light has gone out of our lives

12 May 2009, 0437 hrs IST, Alok Tiwari, TNN

If the last month’s general elections were instructive in any manner it was to show up the apathy and shocking lack of self-respect among the

Vidarbha electorate. Consider Nagpur and Amravati, the two biggest towns of Vidarbha, the only two that are home to general universities. Both towns were put down in a most humiliating manner by state-run power utility MSEDCL and power regulator Maharashtra Energy Regulatory Commission (MERC).

Both agencies tried every trick in the book to ensure that zero load-shedding plan put forth by Vidarbha Industries Association was scuttled. MSEDCL kept on submitting flawed papers to MERC that went through them with a fine-tooth comb. The result was power cuts continued unabated.

You would imagine the people would be seething with anger. You would expect the issue would singe the election campaign in at least these two towns. The electorate would be eager to punish the government that had so blatantly denied them their due. Well, was it so?

Power position barely figured as an issue. If at all it did, it was in questions put by the media to candidates who escaped with evasive answers. If you were not reading papers, you would never imagine there is anything like power shortage. It certainly did not show up in voting figures. Only 43 of every 100 Nagpur voters bothered to vote, returning the lowest percentage in years.

This is not only sad but also shocking. The pathetic power situation ought to be the No 1 political issue in the entire region. It is because Vidarbha produces 4,525 MW power, which is about 45% of all the power that Maharashtra produces.

12 May 2009, 0436 hrs IST, Ramu Bhagwat, TNN

All politicians in Vidarbha admit that the region, which generates more than half the electricity that Maharashtra consumes, gets a raw deal when

it comes to fulfilling its power needs. Still, these politicians are unable to get the government

to fulfil even the promises made on the floor of the legislature. Consequently, while Mumbai and western Maharashtra’s Pune and Pen get special treatment, Nagpur and Amravati are left to wallow in darkness and starved of development.

With state elections round the corner, the government has finally woken up to the fact that long hours of load-shedding, especially in the region’s rural areas, could be a huge setback. Just before the Lok Sabha election code of conduct came into force, Union energy minister finally laid the foundation stone for the Mouda power plant. But even his partymen agree that such symbolic actions will not help, and unless people get full relief from load-shedding they may express their ire in the state elections.

“Yes, there is a perception of discrimination,” admits textile minister Anees Ahmed. “My party colleague and minister of state for power Sunil Deshmukh took the initiative to make Nagpur and Amravati free of power cuts,” said Ahmed.

3.‘Politicians are the culprits’

12 May 2009, 0436 hrs IST, Proshun Chakraborty, TNN

An independent observer may blame the lack of activism among common people for the neglect that Vidarbha suffers. However, for the people, at

least educated ones, the politician is the one to blame for the sorry power situation.

They claimed that the situation was so bad because the political leaders in the region were so spineless. Dr Anup Marar, director of Orange City Hospital

and Research Institute, asked if Vidarbha was generating so much power, why should it suffer load-shedding. “In fact we pay more for energy than even Pune or Mumbai which face no load-shedding,” he said.

Dr Marar pointed out that Chhattisgarh was very backward when it was part of Madhya Pradesh. However, when it separated, it started prospering. “Now, Chhattisgarh is generating revenue by selling surplus power to other states. In the past, Maharashtra was power surplus, however, due to mismanagement and poor vision of authorities, the now there is shortage. Due to lethargic attitude of the leaders of Vidarbha, essential supplies like water and power would soon become luxuries,” he said.

Sharad Verma, Chief Operating Officer, Indo Rama Synthetics (I) Ltd., said that wrong priorities of the state government were responsible for power mess. Despite the fact that the Vidarbha had plenty of power generation, it was being supplied to western Maharashtra leaving Vidarbha in the dark. The load-shedding had also hit the industrialisation of the region very badly, he added.

PKB Chakraborty, retired director general of police, called it one of the greatest injustices towards Vidarbha. In fact, it was a clear case of bias, as the government had made many parts like Pune and New Mumbai load-shedding free. He also ridiculed the government’s decision to set up power generation unit in Nandurbar, where necessities like coal or road facilities were not available.

S M Joshi, director of Modern School said this was bound to happen when leaders of Vidarbha region were so spineless.

4.6-24x7 power for Pen @ 18 paise per unit surcharge

30 Apr 2009, 0516 hrs IST, Ashish Roy, TNN

NAGPUR: Even as the whole state reels under prolonged power cuts, the people from power minister Sunil Tatkare's assembly constituency and nearby

areas are going to get complete relief from the problem by paying a pittance. MSEDCL has finalised a petition that proposes to make urban and semi-urban areas of Pen MSEDCL circle free from load shedding by levying a surcharge of only 18 paise per unit.

If the proposal is ayed by Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC), then a person consuming 1000 units per month, that is using three to four air-conditioners, will have to pay only Rs 180 monthly surcharge to enjoy uninterrupted power supply. Not even the cheapest inverter can provide this facility at such low cost.

The low surcharge has been calculated by levying surcharge on big industries in Pen circle. Strangely, these industries do not suffer from any power cuts but MSEDCL still proposes to levy surcharge for power that they will not consume.

MSEDCL has used similar approach to make Pune, Baramati, Thane and Vashi load shedding free. However, in all these cities the surcharge is 40 paise per unit or more due to lesser number of big industries.

Pen circle has 96.3 MW load in urban and semi-urban areas and 35 MW load of industries having one weekly load shedding day. On the other hand industries and other installations enjoying 24x7 power supply is 540 MW.

While MSEDCL is purchasing power to do away with load shedding for 96.3 MW urban and semi-urban load and 35 MW industrial load, it proposes to levy surcharge on 669 MW including big industries.

Apparently, (MERC) does not have any problem with MSEDCL's robbing Peter to pay Paul policy.

The technical validation session for the petition was held on February 26 along with those for Nagpur and Amravati. While MERC raised several queries regarding petitions for Nagpur and Amravati, it had few queries regarding Pen. As a result MSEDCL was able to finalise the petition on March 2. It had to wait till April end because of election code of conduct.

Meanwhile, Vidarbha Industries Association's (VIA) R B Goenka said that he had sought all the details of the petition filed by MSEDCL for Pen. "VIA is strongly going to oppose such a discrimination."

Goenka further said that he would file a review petition regarding the final zero load shedding order issued by MERC for Vashi and Thane.

5.MSEDCL favouring Pen: Goenka

20 May 2009, 0410 hrs IST, Ashish Roy, TNN

NAGPUR: Vidarbha Industries Association (VIA) has raised strong objections against MSEDCL’s petition to make Pen circle free of load shedding. In

its submission sent to the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC), VIA has claimed that calculations done by MSEDCL are erroneous and if the petition is allowed then it would lead to usage of power meant for the entire state for Pen circle and consumers all over the state would pay for it.

VIA has urged MERC to direct MSEDCL to submit a fresh petition after submitting the data sought by it and considering the objections raised. Incidentally, the assembly constituency of power minister Sunil Tatkare comes under Pen circle.

RB Goenka of VIA said that MSEDCL has claimed that it would require only 28 MW for 12 hours every day to make the circle load shedding free. “This figure has been arrived on the basis of erroneous calculations,” he said.

Goenka claimed that if the formula that was applied by MERC in case of Nagpur and Amravati is used then MSEDCL would require 59 MW for six days and 94 MW during industrial load shedding.

MSEDCL had calculated the distribution losses in Pen circle as 5.33%. However, this figure had been arrived by considering the load of big industries that do not face even a single minute load shedding. The load of such industries is 540 MW. “The distribution loss in the areas that face load shedding is 26% as per VIA while MSEDCL has not provided any separate figure,” Goenka said.

The VIA office-bearer said that MSEDCL by reducing the distribution loss had artificially brought down the surcharge to be paid by consumers of Pen circle.

The rate of realisation in Pen circle has been calculated without excluding the big industries for which extra power was not being purchased. “Thus the rate of realisation has been artificially increased to bring down the surcharge,” he charged.

The VIA has urged MERC to direct MSEDCL to provide revenue figures of only the urban areas that it planned to make free from power cuts

6.City erupts over power woes

13 May 2009, 0624 hrs IST, Proshun Chakraborty, TNN

NAGPUR: The city reacted with anger over TOI’s ‘Dark Times’ reports that appeared on Tuesday. Vidarbha’s power woes and the powerlessness of the

politicians and the general public of the region was met with a strong and vociferous reaction from across the social spectrum.

Medical experts, social activists, representatives of various trade bodies, professionals etc were in no uncertain terms unanimous about the lackadaisical role of people’s representatives for the present mess. At the same time, some also pointed to the general laid-back attitude of the citizens.

Or, as national president of Indian Medical Association Dr Ashok Adhao explained, “There’s a general lack of awareness on part of the people of Vidarbha to make their voices heard and, in turn, it allows the politicians from western Maharashtra to feast on Vidarbha’s helplessness.”

At a time when unabated farmers’ suicide blemished Vidarbha’s image, lack of power has only driven them to suffer even more. Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti president Kishore Tiwari said that power starvation was leading the region nowhere. “Not only has industrialisation been adversely affected, power crunch has hit the irrigation projects very hard,” he said.

While there is a view that holds the MERC and MSEDCL responsible for discriminatory treatment and not finalising the proposal of zero load-shedding for Nagpur and Amravati, activist Satish Khare said it would be a bit hasty to blame MERC “which is just a regulatory body”. “The fact is that the zero load-shedding proposal is not finalised due to total incompetency persisting at MSEDCL,” he said.

Madhukar Kukde, office-bearer of Maharashtra Litigation Forum, and Sunil Dudhalwar, president of Nag-Vidarbha Builder Association, had different views. They feel that load-shedding in Vidarbha was similar to other parts in the state. “In Pune too people suffer power cuts but on a lesser scale due to captive power generation,” Kukde said. in the city,” said Kukde.

Wholesale Grain and Seeds Merchants Association general secretary Pratap Motwani spoke about the general apathy on part of the politicians to redressing the poor power scenario. “The prevailing power crisis has badly hit Vidarbha’s overall development as many industries have started shifting their units to other states,” he said. “Given the poor power situation, it remains to be seen if the ambitious Mihan and SEZ would give Vidarbha a facelift.”


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