While we are deeply engaged in a series of festivals one after another and celebration of VVIP visits to the state along with inauguration and foundation laying of various projects besides the war cry against drugs and poppy cultivation in certain parts of the state, many of the basic amenities lie neglected by the state government.
Power outage has become a norm in recent times in the state even with the introduction of the pre-paid meter system, while supply of safe drinking water is almost absent in Imphal city. These two amenities, power and water are basic in the life of the common people, which the state government needs to ensure.
As regards power, the pre-paid meter system was first introduced during the Congress regime led by Okram Ibobi Singh and it cannot be denied that it was one of his singular achievements, whatever be his misdemeanours.
During his time, power supply had become regular and consumers were mostly satisfied leading to good revenue collection.
Now, the power tariff has increased more than double but the supply remains erratic.
Present Power Minister Th Bishwajit is full of excuses, saying that its systems are outdated, but did not spell out in which sector the problem of outdated systems is happening. As we understand, there has been a huge infusion of investment from the Centre in the power sector.
There have also been complaints of scandals running into crores of rupees, besides the question of whether system updates are taking according to schedule.
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Meanwhile, Chief Minister N Biren Singh said that the state has been doling out Rs 300 crore every year to buy power and provide regular power supply to the consumers. He also said that the state buys power at the rate of Rs 10 per unit while it is selling it to the consumers at the subsidized rate of Rs 6 per unit. Still, it is not a new thing and in the welfare model of governance subsidies are provided in most services or sectors.
However, ever since the new government led by the BJP took over the reins of power there has been a huke in power tariff twice while there is a fall in consumer satisfaction. As the pre-paid system is there, the consumers are paying regularly and, mind you, in advance which means that the consumers are also contributing to the fund for purchasing power.
On the other hand, Imphal city has been facing a drinking water crisis for the last six/seven months or so. Water is not flowing in the PHED pipes anymore since the last six/seven months and people are buying water from private water tankers at exorbitant rates and no one seems to bother.
Major portions of Imphal city have been facing water scarcity and have had to depend on private water tankers. In fact, private water supply has become a booming business.
It is rumoured that some powerful persons are involved in the private water supply business, while on the other hand some enterprising people have started opening private water treatment plants near the rivers.
For those who could afford to buy 10,000 litre at Rs 7,000 and 1,700 litres at Rs 500, it is alright. But to the poor urban families, it has become a major burden with the MLAs turning a blind eye to the woes of the poor who cannot afford to buy water.
The VVIPs and VIPs, to whose homes and quarters water is delivered by government water tankers on a regular basis, might have been blind to the acute water scarcity facing Imphal city now. So, we must say please keep aside the celebrations and festivals for the time being and concentrate on these two basic things. The general public would be extremely pleased.