Erasing memories of the dark-age
Regardless of sporadic complaints about erratic power supply, mainly due to technical factors such as outage and replacement of transformers and power line stringing works, the overall power supply situation in Manipur has improved appreciably ever since the pre-paid billing system was introduced in the last term of 15 years’ tenure of the then Congress government. Compared to the pre pre-paid metering era, when, with the exception of some VIP areas, almost all parts of the state used to be plunged in total darkness for lengthy hours, people of Manipur should feel great relief on account of the nearly uninterrupted power supply for the past 2-3 years. Amid such significant improvement, power minister Th Biswajit committing to power connectivity for the remaining 85 non-electrified villages by 2018 would help these villagers literally creep out of the ‘dark age’. As per official record, there were 201 un-electrified villages in the state till March 2016 and as such the number dipping to only 85 indicates that the on-going power connectivity programmes, under state-specific or centrally-initiated schemes, have been effective towards realisation of the goal of total illumination, sooner than later. The improvement could also be estimated from another official record which mentioned that by the financial year 2015 an average of 20 hours of power supply could be ensured to the urban population and 16-18 hours in rural areas. Such an improved situation is a far from the days when students preparing for important examinations were compelled to study under candle lights and the grown-ups contribute to operate power generators during major sports events.
Thanks to absence of major industrial units, people of Manipur could hope for enjoying regular power supply for some more years, in-spite of the state continuing to rely heavily on the allocation of power from central generating stations like NHPC, NEEPCO, OTPC Pallatana Unit I and Tripura-based Baramura power plant to meet its requirement. Apart from addressing inconveniences that used to beset both urban and rural folks, availability of sufficient electrical power is bound to facilitate mechanization of many farming operations, such as threshing, milking, and hoisting grain for storage. In areas facing labour shortages, this allows for greater productivity at reduced cost. Ironically, in-spite of Manipur having substantial hydro power potential of about 2000 MW, which is sufficient not only to meet the local requirement for domestic and industrial uses, but surplus enough for marketing outside, the state continues to depend on supply from different central generating units. On the positive side, the state’s power department had till June 2013 identified about a dozen hydro power potential sites and consequently launched power generation projects, which currently are said to be at different stages of implementation. As electricity is an essential requirement for all facets of modern life and critical infrastructure on which the socio-economic development of the state will revolve around, minister Biswajit needs to shoulder the responsibility of ensuring that the present and upcoming generations are not deprived of the right to try their hands on modern gadgets, help the youngsters to concentrate on their studies and facilitate them to contribute in the state’s development.