By K.N. Pandita
Report of the Comptroller and Auditor Genera (CAG) on six hydro-electric power projects in J&K State reveals total inefficiency and incompetence of the State government in implementing very essential projects of power generation with the result that the entire system presents a story of collapse and abject chaos. One shudders on noticing the callousness of the authorities supposed to be running the entire power generating plans. The CAG has noticed time and cost overruns of incredible magnitude. The report reveals that all along the government has been telling lies and cheating people. The excess expenditure on these six power generating projects escalated from 41 per cent to whopping 687 per cent adding up to Rs. 1,700 crores. The delays were from four to 16 years. The details of each project as given in the CAG report should, without loss of time, ask for legal prosecution of the concerned authorities for wasting public money and for breach of trust.
As the very professionalism of the executives of the projects in question is under question, a commission of inquiry should be set up to fix responsibility and exemplary punishment be given to those on whom onus rests. No soft pedaling in the case will help. Giving details, the CAG report says there was a cost over-run of Rs 1,708.97 crore on six mini and major projects that detail project reports (DPR) had estimated involved a total expenditure of Rs 3,945.30 crore. The actual spending on these projects was Rs 5,654.27 crore. In a recent statement the PDC commenting on some snag in Bagli har II had said that there would be no cuts after the repairs are carried out by the German team. Now that the repairs have been carried out there is no improvement in power cuts whatsoever. And the truth about Baglihar is that the 450-MW Phase-I Baglihar project, which DPR estimates had envisaged, involved an expenditure of Rs 3,899 crore and would be completed in 2003, was completed and commissioned in 2009 after a delay of six years and cost escalation of Rs 1,611.09 crore, with total expenditure of Rs. 5,510.09 crore, Similarly, the Marpacho mini-hydel project, with a cost estimate of Rs 1.63 crore and completion schedule of 1990 as per the DPR, was completed in 2006 at a cost of Rs 11.21 crores with a cost overrun of Rs. 11.21 crore (687 per cent) and a delay of 15 years, There can be no sadder a commentary on our power production exercise. In summer Jammu is reeling under power cuts and in winter Kashmir is facing the same problem. If a mini project takes 16 years to complete, we should better write off the hope that a day will come when we will be self sufficient in power supply. All that one can say is that our power generating organization is in the hands of criminals and inefficient people who are playing with the sentiments of the people. We claim that India is going to be a super power in a decade or so. But keeping the negligible progress of our power development department in view, we should be justified to think that in next few decade our state will return to Stone Age. The CAG report is an eye opener although it makes one absolutely disappointed and hopeless about any improvement in the electric power supply in the state for another ten years. When this is the condition of power generation, what do we expect from the department in regard to modernization of technology of supply of electric power? Electric posts stand awkwardly in the midst of the road, most o them are dangerously tilting sideways and about to crash, low phased wiring results in recurrent power break down, low voltage spoils the electric home gadgets and so forth and so on. All this needs constituting a power commission of inquiry into the inefficiency and incompetence of the department, reasons for delay and escalation of cost and shabby supply system. CAG Report is an eye opener and civil society cannot take it lying low and let the power development responsible authorities laugh in heir sleeves as if nothing has happened or nothing is going to happen.
Jammu region has the potential to grow as the industrial hub of the state. Industry means regular power supply. When there is no assured supply of power, industries cannot expand and the result is that the battle against unemployment and poverty cannot be won. Electricity is the key to overall development of any state in the Union. Civil society has a right to demand regular and uninterrupted power supply throughout the year. Government cannot compromise on this right of the people.