Aping the Daroga

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The state Power department’s renewed intention to enhance revenue collection is welcome but the means still needs to be debated. In earlier drives, the revenue collection team was assisted by the police and hence a number of illegal consumers and defaulters were pulled up. Criminal cases were taken up. Mass disconnection followed. As a result of the drive, revenue collection had shot up. But now it is back to square one. And the power department has again begun to make threatening noises to the consumers or for that matter the general public. After the introduction of pre-paid system in Bazar area, the department has been able to save power. As per official figures released to the media, the daily power consumption in Paona Bazar has come down to 500 kilowatt from 1040 kilowatt. What do the numbers speak? It could only mean that bulk of the power loss or illegal connection in the past has been in the densely populated Bazar area where the powerful business lobby operates. Here we are not trying to say that, there are no power loss through illegal connection and that there are no defaulters beyond the Bazar and in the outskirts. Talking about losses, we have to take into account the huge losses incurred in transmission and distribution. Leaving aside technicalities, we are of the simple opinion that while huge losses are incurred due to power theft or illegal connection the ill equipped Power department is also responsible for the losses. And the burden should not be put on the shoulders of the consumers or the general public alone. Before playing the policeman the department should think twice on the matter of the service it has been providing to the consumers both regular payers and defaulters. Why are consumers defaulting on regular payment of bills? Time and again, we have discussed this issue. First, the state Power department must understand that it is a service provider and it is providing a service to the consumers. Tragedy is, they simply do not understand or refuse to understand this. While they are very uneasy with the part of the service provider they are very comfortable in pointing fingers to the consumers and the general public. As the police or security forces suspiciously eye everyone in the state, officials of the Power department also look upon the general public as potential defaulters or thieves. Some people might think that we are stretching the limits of comparison. We are talking of the attitude towards the consumers and the public. They seem to think, unless you give the consumers a fright by taking the police you will not get the desired results. Citing conflict situation as a reason, nowadays top bureaucrats and engineers move around with security escorts, and it is affecting their mindset. For lack of imagination, these bureaucrats and engineers begin to think and act like a policeman. They begin to see no other option than the use of sheer force and stringent laws while dealing with their own issues. This indeed is a serious area of concern for the society. We are not talking here about the Power department alone, the attitude goes for almost all top ranking officials and engineers. Having said that, we would like to reiterate that the Power department should use a more imaginative approach for enhanced revenue collection and cutting losses. A consumer friendly approach for the defaulters like easy installments scheme for recovery would not only be welcome but it will help instill confidence to the department. As for the illegal consumers, regularization of the connections with a clean slate is one approach which will go a long way in relations between the service provider and the consumer. But, please do not play the policeman.

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