The Reality is... !!

Of late several high-profile programs, including a multi-crore five-day event has been undertaken by the Government of Nagaland. All these events have consistently focused on the issue of development, with the hope to attract and persuade investors to make investments. With much care and resources, diligent effort has been garnered to ensure that such products have been well-packaged.

However, the reality is that Nagaland State cannot even provide sustainable electric power, nor can it meet the demands of the consumers. This indeed is the sad state of affairs and it raises one fundamental question; how can sustainable development be realized where the government cannot even provide adequate electricity for the well being of its citizen? 

According to the Nuclear Energy Institute, in development terms, reliable and affordable electricity is required to achieve the United Nations 1992 Rio Declaration’s goal to eliminate poverty. Hence, any economic development that can eliminate poverty and improve standards of living depends on reliable and affordable delivery of electricity. Critical infrastructure such as schools, factories, transportation, water supply, medical treatment and food preservation all require substantial electricity.

According to the United Nation’s 2004 report, Meeting the Millennium Development Goals, it has on the basis of World Bank data calculated that an 80 percent increase in a country’s gross national product correlates with a 100 percent increase in electricity consumption per person. The fact that Nagaland cannot provide reliable and affordable electricity implies that the question of eliminating poverty and improving standards of living is far from being realized. 

The reality however does not just end there. Considering that present supply of electricity in Nagaland can at the best be described as, irregular, it implies that existing infrastructures around schools, transport, business, health care and governance are affected and therefore its scope for development is incredibly reduced.

Considering its geopolitics, it is important to acknowledge that production of electricity to promote sustainable development in Nagaland must be pursued in a combination of all sources such as hydropower, wind, solar and others that does not compromise the environment. Considering that these renewable electricity productions are unpredictable and intermittent, efforts must also focus on other sources of producing electricity.

But for now, one must contend with the hot, humid weather without electric power. Lack of electric power affects not just the question of development, but has social and community implications as well. For instance, when electricity goes off, business and some personal homes switch-on the generator; and as one can imagine, the bigger the generator, louder the noise, causing more headaches for the neighbors. This inevitably leads to a catch-22 situation of irritation and tension within the colony. 

Nonetheless, if the Government of Nagaland is genuinely concerned and committed to the issue of sustainable development, it simply just cannot conveniently bypass its moral responsibility of providing reliable and affordable electricity. Perhaps the first step towards taking responsibility is to reevaluate its priority list and to ensure that basic infrastructure; beginning with water, housing and electricity is adequately provided for. 

The moral of the lesson is that unless the question of electricity is addressed, the issue of development would be a far cry in the Naga context!