Public discussion held on crisis of electricity in Manipur

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IMPHAL Jan 6: A public discussion on ‘Crisis of Electricity in Manipur: Is there a way out?’ was held at Imphal Hotel today with Dr. A. Bimol Akoijam of the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi as the moderator. The discussion was attended by Professor Amar Yumnam of Manipur University, RK Kishore, Additional Chief Engineer – I of Electricity Department, Pradip Phanjoubam, Editor of the Imphal Free Press, Meihoubam Rakesh, Human Rights and Legal Network,  P Arunkumar, president of Consumer Club and  Kh Khamba Superintendent of Engineer Electrical Circle-I .
The discussion was attended by academicians, social activists, film makers, media personnel and others. A wide range of issues relating to the power sector of Manipur including consumer and departmental responsibilities were deliberated upon in the discussion.
The first-of-its-kind meet in the state highlighted some of very disturbing points. RK Kishore, additional chief engineer of the electricity department pointed out the pitiable situation in power sector in the state stating that Manipur fared the worst, not only in North East region but throughout the entire length and breadth of the country, in terms of power supply. Average consumers of power in the state gets only about 3 hours of power supply in a day while its neighboring states like Mizoram, Nagaland and Assam get 24 hours of uninterrupted power supply.
He further maintained that considering the peak hour requirement of 170/180 MW, the State could afford to purchase only about 90 MW from power stations like NEEPCO and NHPC, out of which 80 percent are lost every month due to power theft and tripping.
The electricity department of the State spends Rs 11.5 crore every month in purchasing power, however, it could collect only Rs 1.5 crore from consumers, lamented RK Kishore, blaming the consumers in equal measure as the government while admitting systemic failure and widespread corruption in the department.
P Akoijam, Professor of Manipur University maintained that uninterrupted supply of power may be expected in the State within 3-4 months given the novelty and the widespread publicity of the meet. Seminar of this kind, with participation from different interest groups, will only generate hope for the better.
Other members present in the meeting resolved to urge the Government of Manipur to bring out a ‘White Paper’ on power situation in Manipur and what, why and how they are managing electric power supplied to the people of Manipur.
They also decided to make an appeal to all the civil society groups, professional bodies and others to take appropriate actions, including legal and constitutional means, to ensure regular and adequate electric power supply to the public.
They further requested the print and electronic media in the state to take pro-active initiatives to ensure regular supply of electric power in Manipur by way of generating public debate and opinions on the matter, and further requested FIPA (Forum for Indigenous Perspectives and Action) to pursue the matters with a follow up meeting at the earliest.

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