State slipping into darkness

No decision in crucial govt meeting Mukul,

Power minister missing 

The empty room of Power Minister Clement Marak at Main Secretariate on Friday. (ST)

SHILLONG: At the conclusion of a meeting convened by the Meghalaya government on Friday to find a way out of the ongoing power crunch, there was no flicker of light at the end of the tunnel.
“We are trying to find ways and means to ease the situation,” was the cryptic comment of acting Chief Secretary Barkos Warjri.
What had added to the woes of the State Government was the prolonged absence of Chief Minister Dr Mukul Sangma and Power Minister Clement Marak from the state capital, because of which the State Government was not in a position to take any decision, it was stated. At the end of the Budget session of the State assembly, the Chief Minister had left for the Garo Hills for poll campaigning.
He had spent only one night in Shillong at the end of the polling in Meghalaya on April 9 and then busied himself in poll campaigning in other parts of the country. In the current month, people in Shillong could recall seeing the Chief Minister only in newspaper photos, waving from helicopters or campaigning for Congress candidates in Assam. While Shillong is witnessing daily load shedding for eight hours, the Garo Hills are experiencing load shedding for 11 hours in a day.
Opposition parties were critical of the prolonged absence of senior ministers from the capital when the power situation was critical. “It is really sad that the Chief Minister is not in station when the whole State is in darkness,” an irate UDP working president Jemino Mawthoh said. “If he was an effective and efficient leader, he could have issued the necessary directive to address this problem at the earliest even if he is not in station. This clearly reflects the lack of responsibility on the part of the Chief Minister. It only indicates the sorry state of affairs that the State is passing through.”
The Power Department so far has not even taken any decision on how to overcome the situation. Sources in the finance department said that the financial position of the State Government was comfortable but the power department so far had not taken any decision on purchase of power.
If the Government wanted to bail the Meghalaya Electricity Corporation Limited out, it required decision at the top level which was not possible without the presence of the Chief Minister and the Power Minister, it was pointed out. MeECL was saddled with a debt of Rs 473 crore to Central power utilities, because of which it could not purchase power from agencies like NEEPCO. Internal generation was low in the absence of rain.
Meanwhile, people continued to suffer because of the prolonged load shedding resorted to by MeECL. Particularly worrisome was the situation in Government hospitals. Private hospitals were marginally better off, with their own arrangements of backup power supply.
Superintendent of Shillong Civil Hospital Dr A. Borthakur said the delivery of services in the hospital was getting badly affected due to the load shedding. According to Borthakur, since the standby generator of the hospital was out of order, there was absolutely no power supply in the hospital during power cuts which were taking place at peak hours. Operation theatres, dressing and sterilising of instruments were being affected due to load shedding, a worried Dr Borthakur said.

UDP to protest power crisis

SHILLONG: Opposition UDP will stage a sit-in demonstration in protest against the prevailing power crisis on Tuesday.
Informing this here on Friday, UDP working president Jemino Mawthoh said, “We would be holding the sit-in demonstration at the parking lot near Additional Secretariat from 10 am to 5 pm”.
Stating that several top party leaders and functionaries would be attending the sit-in demonstration, he urged that the general public to take part in the said agitational programme.
Complaint: Though officially MeECL is resorting to eight hours of load shedding in a day, several consumers have complained that the load shedding  usually extends to nine hours in a few localities every day.
The power is cut at   4 am to 7 am,  11am to 2 pm and again from 4 pm to  6 pm in a few localities  but residents complaint  that load shedding is extended for one hour from 9 pm to 10 pm beyond  the three phases of load shedding.
Residents say that the MeECL should clarify as to why the load shedding is continued for one extra hour when it has fixed for 8 hours at various intervals.