Gross Neglect

The deteriorating power situation in Nagaland should be a cause of concern for the political leadership in the State. The blame for the dwindling electricity supply scenario cannot be solely put on the so called dry season experienced during this part of the year. Other factors need to be identified for this poor state of affairs. One of this, which unfortunately does not find much of a mention, is the unequal power sharing arrangement between the Centre and the States (in this case Nagaland). As per the news report carried in yesterday’s edition of this newspaper, the Centre through its agencies like the North East Electric & Power Corporation (NEEPCO) and NHPC have a monopoly even over Doyang HEP which generates 75 MW of power, the exact requirement of the State. As such, the Centre’s policy of power sharing has limited Nagaland’s share of the power from its very own Doyang HEP to a meager 7 MW while a large percentage of the power is distributed to other states in the North East while Nagaland has very little say in the use of the surplus power that may be generated from its own State. This particular aspect needs to be corrected and for this both the government and Opposition Congress must take up the matter with Delhi at the appropriate forum.

If at all the Centre is genuinely concerned about improving infrastructure in the Northeast region, improving the power sector should remain a top priority along with road and transport connectivity. To bridge this infrastructure bottleneck, Delhi has to give some special concession for a State like Nagaland when it comes to improving the road, transport and power sector. Just to take an instance, the present power sharing arrangement is grossly unfair and amounts to exploitation of the state’s natural resources. An example of this relates to the 22.92 MW HFO based Thermal power plant in Chumukedima, a bye-product of Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s much celebrated visit in 2003. According to information received, the funding has been stopped by the Centre after a huge amount of effort and money had been put into it. A rough estimate of Rs 10 crores has already been wasted on the project which had been meant to meet the state’s power demand. Departmental sources revealed that the Central government had demanded the project to be handed over to them when the Department approached them for releasing the fund for the project and hence the Department was unable to go ahead with the project for want of funds. This is a clear instance of Delhi’s step motherly treatment towards the region, which unfortunately does not match with its high sounding initiatives on the development front.

Knowing that it cannot live at the mercy of someone else, the State government has to take a firm policy stand on developing its own internal generation of both hydro and thermal power. To start off, the proposed Hydro project at Tizu-Zunki of 150 MW should be taken up by the State with more keen interest by involving prospective power project developers or through Public-Private Partnership (PPP). The long list of governments running the State should also take a major share of the blame for neglecting the power sector. And the sorry state of affairs in this crucial infrastructure sector is itself the legacy of the government’s own step motherly treatment. The present load shedding in the State is clear sign of gross departmental negligence caused over the last many years. If the State wants to move forward on development, the power sector has to be looked after with more care.