This article is written by Amrit K.N. Pradhan. Amrit is a student at Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law, Patiala.
Studying in a National Law University(NLU) , one of the centres of importance for Development of Law in the country with a posh campus, library and yes the most important feature, a blazing wi-fi connection. These are the three most common important things in our University milieu. Basic utilities like 24/7 electricity, 24/7 water supply, 7-days a week newspaper at-your-doorstep service, very reasonable mess service (overly understated considering what we pay for it. Rs. 90 on average for a 4-square meal including snacks.) and our evergreen support system and knowledge injectors, our Teachers’.
24/7 electricity supply (with generator backup.) means electricity is used in great haste by majority of the students (I include myself in that bracket.). Being only one-of-the NLU’s (out-out-of 16.) to have 12 hour AC supply is another major consumer durable which is included in the former bracket. However, my gut feeling predicts the situation won’t last much longer.
And we students would curse ourselves“again” for not paying obedience to polite requests of the previous generation try and conserve energy. I guess this is the counter our millennial generation to get one back against the older ones’ who even after so much International and Domestic hand-wringing haven’t been able to save the earth for their future generations.
All the three political organisations in the run-up to 2017 Punjab Polls have declared free-free-electricity for the poor (including the incumbent Shiromani Akali Dal Govt. coalition with BJP. ). The trade-off between votes and supplying electricity in the majorly rural area populated Punjab has to borne-borne-off by the middle-class consumers. News mill around the country depicts another bad news for the bourgeoise, news is transmission & distribution will be further opened up for private sector. The slog of middle-class from days after 1989 continues.
In India, supply of Electricity is regulated by the Electricity Act, 2003. A separate Rural Electrification Policy, 2006(REC, 2006.) was introduced by the then UPA-I Govt. to ski through electricity to Rural India. According to Census 2011-12, 83.3 crore or close to 70% of the population are of rural domicile. According to the Policy, a village is classified as electrified if the basic infrastructure (distribution transformer and power lines.) is in place.
So the final goal of the REC, 2006 a centrally-sponsored scheme( CSS is a scheme largely funded by the central government with a defined State Govt. share contribution to the scheme.) is putting up infrastructure for power supply. No Central Govt or State Govt. policy mentions the quality of power supply or assurance of the same is mentioned. Power supply ultimately falls on the shoulders of State Governments(the recent Volleyball game played by the Centre and UP was a classic totem.) but there is also a lack of a solid Central scheme(something NITI Aayog should look at.).
This is a good case of Goodhart’s Law, which says that once a measures becomes a target, it ceases to be useful, partly because so many people have an incentive to doctor it. Recent reports on the the very crucial Electricity Generation, Transmission and Distribution sector (a major indicator in World Bank Ease of Doing Business Index.) has shown the general benchmark for rural areas fkr a discoms lower than that of highly populated and profitable urban areas.
To check the anomaly, Section 23 of the Electricity Act, 2003 provides authority to State Electricity Regulatory Commissions (SERC) to order to have “power supply in rural and urban areas to have the same quality”. This a legal remedy, however, a much simpler remedy would be to make power supply in rural areas more viable. Be it by applying renewable energy solutions or including supplying of Electricity to rural areas as an activity under the CSR activities, made mandatory for the registered firms (which have turnover over a certain limit.) by the Companies Act, 2013 (Section 135.).
Time to check the reality and quality even after having gaining 92% electricity coverage in villages out of the 10,072 homes electrified (electricity supplied at least once.) since the reign of the Energy-filled NDA Government. (as proclaimed by Union Minister of Power, Piyush Goyal.).