Darkness again

By the time this issue of Meghalaya Times hits the stands, a section of the people of the state would have already gone through a phase of load shedding imposed once again by the Meghalaya Power Distribution Corporation Limited (MePDCL). In a release providing information regarding the re-imposition of load shedding and the timings thereof, the Director of Distribution (MePDCL has informed that the corporation has been compelled to resort to this measure as the North Eastern Electric Power Corporation Limited has decided to regulate power supply to Meghalaya. This is because the state has been unable to pay its dues to NEEPCO in spite of repeated reminders. The issue of Meghalaya’s power woes also found space in the discussions during the budget session of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly where the Opposition slammed the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) government for its failure to clear dues to NEEPCO. The state has just emerged from a similar load shedding imposed due to power regulation by the National Thermal Power Corporation Limited (NTPC). This issue was settled when the Government of Meghalaya, on March 8, released over Rs 18 crore as a letter of credit to NTPC. With the resumption of power supply, MePDCL lifted the load shedding and the citizens of the state were made to believe that their problems pertaining to power had come to an end. Sadly, not even a week after the lifting of the first load shedding, the people were informed on Friday that load shedding would resume at midnight on March 19-20. As stated earlier, the government should have anticipated this impending action given the reminders from NEEPCO to clear the dues, failing which the latter would have to resort to regulation of power. Herein lies the problem for the government as MeECL is debt-ridden and is unable to collect on payment due to it.

According to Power Minister, James Sangma, the state is banking on the second installment of the first tranche of Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan (ABA) loan of Rs 230 crore to be able to clear the dues to NEEPCO. Earlier, the minister had also justified the position that the Meghalaya Energy Corporation Limited (MeECL) is in by stating that it is plagued by issues ‘from the past’.  Taking note of this statement, it needs to be said that the job of the government is not to blame its predecessors for the problems being faced today. Its job is to find solutions to these problems and hopefully to learn from the mistakes, if any, made in the past. That is not to say that the MDA government is not trying to do its part in this regard but when we look at the enormity of the problem that the state’s power sector is faced with, it is without doubt that any measures to rectify the situation will be a gigantean task for any government.