Delhi Elections and the Silly 'Power Games'

Among utter mudslinging, maligning and language spins, elections to the legislative assembly of the state of Delhi are going to happen on February 7, 2015. It is impossible to believe that to elect members of the New Delhi Municipal Corporation (which includes the Chief Minister) we are seeing right now competitive populism at its worst taking place, with no estimates of money being given from anyone. One key area that we need to examine is the electricty scenario of Delhi, whereby everyone wants to power their autorickshaws to the chair of Chief Minister of the National Capital Territory of Delhi.

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had ridden the first bid at power on the protest of power tariffs in Delhi.

Fact is that the power scenario of Delhi is a mess to begin with, encouraged by the political opportunism of hooligans of the likes of AAP who believe that freeloading is the way to go. Seeing this, both the Indian National Congress (INC) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have also been making similar pledges, with rates on offer going down to one fourth of the existing tariffs. Encouraging defaulters to not pay for the sake of an 'aandolan' has been It is pertinent to observe that while Tata Power led North Delhi Power Limited (NDPL) which distributes power to North Delhi has also demanded increased tariffs repeatedly, it is always the Anil Ambani owned Bombay Suburban Electricity Supply (BSES) subsidiaries in Delhi that are targeted. Clearly, invoking the Ambani name goes well with a certain bunch of India's 'intellectuals', most of whom are housed out of New Delhi. This is in contrast to the NDMC areas, which freeload on power tariffs being paid are one fourth, but rely heavily on central government's subsidy. Unless the state debt is allowed to balloon, in the light of burgeoning migrant population, Delhi shall join the auspices of Poschim Banga, Kerala and Punjab in racketing up a huge debt. It will of course be great fun to see the CM of Delhi, much to the delight of several other states who think it is like a spoilt brat, sit with a begging bowl in front of the Prime Minister's office.

Paying the correct price for electricity in Delhi has always been a matter of great political debate. Most people don't know that right across the borders of the city of Delhi, residents of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh and other nearby states have been paying much higher per unit prices. Despite that, the electricity scenario is for all to see. Also, most of these distribution companies are owned by the government and not private players, creating monopolies. The real method to reduce tariffs in Delhi will be to introduce competition, much like the manner in which mobile services companies have been forced to reduce call charges. If people are interested they can check up the tariffs charged by various power generation companies, which has been a result of two things - grid dependence on coal and increasing demand between states. With the increases of the power generation costs in India, is it any surprise that end user tariffs will increase? Despite claims by several news channels in India like NDTV, one must also realize that most thermal power plants in India are already running past their dates of decomissioning, and that impacts their ability to generate power. So either we all pay more income tax, and all of us including those who claim to be poor or farmers, pay tax, or we finance upgrades and new plants through the increased tariffs.

Another aspect that everyone forgets is that cheap power is one of the contributing factors to the drastic drop in groundwater tables, since the pump dependent water economy of urban and rural India for agriculture has had to its advantage such harebrained ideas as free electricity in the absence of canals and other water harvesting and supply structures. Punjab has seen the impact of free electricity and the overall economic ruin it has had to suffer consequently. Haryana tried this experiment only to realize just how dangerous it was, and is now abandoning it amidst much protestations and outrage leading to litigation.

However, instead of trying to address the elephants in the room, our political parties are hellbent on populism.


Popular posts from this blog

Call of the Hills - A humble attempt at telling the story of my people

What Vinay Sitapati Has Missed Out –The BJP-RSS’ View of India As seen in Fictional Writings by Deendayal Upadhyaya

Indic Nationalism, and the Role of Vedanta in India’s Freedom Struggle