The country today is shaping up as Digital India as it celebrates Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav - completion of 75 years of ondependence. Amid the celebration, parts of Manipur in Northeast India continues to reel under frequent power outages and total blackout for long days together. The basic need of regular power supply remains a far-fetched dream for the people living in the hills.
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, but the problem of frequent power shutdown persists in several parts of the state till today.
Erratic power supply or total blackouts are becoming synonymous with the hill districts, including Tamenglong and Ukhrul. These two districts have been suffering frequent total blackout which causes untold inconveniences - hampering connectivity, daily work, office work and online classes among others.
In October 2021, Tamenglong district headquarters received power for 17 days only while in September, the district headquarters received electricity for 21 days, not counting half-day off or two-three hours of erratic or planned shutdown by the department concerned in the name of repairing stringing, jungle cutting and pole shifting among others. Similar problems are reported in Ukhrul district.
No doubt, the state government has taken several initiatives to ease the living conditions of the people. But with frequent power cuts and total blackout, daily life has become a challenge as most of the households, even in the villages, are now dependent on power supply to carry out daily activities.
But, what is hindering regular power supply in the region? There are multiple reasons. Firstly, the electricity department do not have the requisite manpower and infrastructure. Secondly, the existing installed poles are old and worn out. Thirdly, the difficult terrain, weather condition and poor road connectivity hinder the electrical staff to rush and locate the spot and to restore power whenever disruption occurs. Fourthly, insufficient funds and poor intervention by the authorities concerned. Fifth, there exists lack of public pressure as complacency has set in with long years of poor power supply condition.
However, complaints and suppressed frustrations are slowly bursting at the seams lately, as the people are hopeful that the government this time is serious about good governance and adress their problems.
Now, since our lives today is dependent on power supply, it is high time the authorities concerned step in and bring a logical solution to ensure that all parts of the state receive regular power supply equally. No part of the state should feel alienated or be less privileged than the other.
Merely playing the blame game or blaming the weather or the location will not ease the untold inconveniences of irregular supply faced by the people, rather it will only leave the districts behind on the path of development.
As Union Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said, "Electricity can transform people’s lives, not just economically but also socially," the concerned authorities should work to achieve consumer's satisfaction and see to it that the right to access electricity is ensured, irrespective of the people living in the hills or in the valleys.
It is hoped that the Manipur State Power Distribution Company Ltd (MSPDCL) under the chairmanship of Tongbram Robindro will bring positive remarkable changes in the power sector, especially in ensuring uninterrupted power supply in the hill districts and remote areas of the state as he promised to work at his best level to strengthen power distribution in the state.