Sunday, March 25, 2007

Delhi summer ahead: Electricity and water ?

The summer season is almost on us, and boy, does this summer promise to be the season of discontent, in terms of basic amenities. In Delhi, last summer was a killer in terms of eletricity and water availability, and this summer would be no better.

Power cuts were a daily feature, with the only variable being the time and period for which power was not available. This actually spun off a whole industry with sales and maintenance of inverters and generators providing livelihood to a large number of people. There are so many things that can be done:
1. Delhi has a very high level of Transmission losses, and somehow Transco's are not being set tough targets
2. In many areas, equipments such as transformers are aged, but somehow the upgradation does not happen
3. How aggressive is the Government about buying electricity for Delhi's needs?
4. More incentives for setting up of power plants, and utilization of alternate sources such as solar and wind power?

Water availability in the city is anyhow a mirage to a large section of people. Water is not available enough for everyone, and the variables in this case are:
1. To those to whom it is available, what is the frequency
2. How many people get unsafe water due to low maintenance of water and sewage lines (and the inter-mingling)
3. How often will politics prevent Haryana and Uttar Pradesh from supplying water to Delhi ?
4. What about the large number of unauthorized colonies that are legalized by the political class, and which have zero or inadequate water supply
5. Can there atleast be some synchronization between the power and water department, and issues like last year where power was also cut to water plants prevented?
6. When will Delhi authorities actually do something to implement mandatory water harvesting to push up the water table (and utilize the rain water), as well as enforce the laws against the current practise of sinking as many tubewells as necessary?

These are all failures of the current Congress Delhi Government (as well as the BJP opposition). They get all united when there is any kind of movement on enforcing laws like sealing, but when it comes to doing some kind of actual governance, they are totally slack. The normal expectation is that a responsible Government keeps on having a lookout for what the needs of the city are, and plans for them in advance such that a situation like this cannot happen. But in our case, our totally incompetent politicans will not do anything like this, and now they come up with excuses such that they did not anticipate the growth, and hence the shortfall. And this only came up when they were asked by the court as to what they intended to do. Useless people. And as for other important stuff such as cleaning our rivers, as far as I can remember (which is atleast a couple of decades), there have been plans to clean the Yamuna and Ganga. These holy rivers remain as polluted as ever, but I am sure that some of the money for cleanliness made it to the right spots (diverted).

We are all equally to blame. It is true that people get the politicians that we deserve. How many of us ever ask the questions that we need to ask, why did our politicians not do the things that are expected out of good governance? Maybe the right thing to do is to ask this question of Delhi's Chief Minister, Madame Sheila Dixit. She has been chief minister long enough that all these shortcomings can be laid directly at her door. But is our polity developed enough that we have a medium where such questions can be asked and the politician made to feel responsible for their inactions? I don't think so, otherwise it would never have happened that we go to the courts through the PIL route for getting such answers.

But one sometimes feel totally powerless to do anything that could shake our politicans. What can a common citizen do? Any suggestions?

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 1:17 PM