May 12, 2006

India Power Crisis

I read these two posts by Gaurav Sabnis about the power crisis that is paralyzing MaharashtraIndia in general lately and was inspired to write something about this myself…

This was such a hot (pun intended) topic last year (see IE's full coverage on 2005 Power Crisis in Mumbai) and apparently things are only getting worse this year. Meanwhile, the politicians are taking the Bush-create-own-reality approach! (I found reports talking about a power crisis from 2001 with discussion about this every year! If nothing got done in last 5 years, wonder why will next 5-years make such a dramatic difference, Mr CM!! Of course, BJP-SS and Congress can blame each other for inaction and explain it away.. and blameEnron-Dabhol debacle/saga/mis-adventure for lack of progress in Maharashtra's strategic planning... but what it boils down to is that our typical corruption, inefficiencies, bureaucracy and false election promises are coming back to bite us in the u-know-what... (Found an interesting thesis submitted at Wharton - Enron in Maharashtra: Power Sector Development and National Identity in Modern India')

I didn't realize till I visited India earlier this year that despite Reliance taking over BSES, problems in Bombay have only been compounded. Pune and other small towns always had power-cuts but not Bombay but it is becoming the case more and more in Bombay too! Equipment is old, demand is high, strangely Reliance has not kept promises but hiked tariff rates significantly without putting in any new infrastructure.... a big energy crisis is in the making that will paralyze the 7% growth rates India keeps touting. Reforms have been talked about...but no concrete strategic plan yet. In the meantime, China keeps going fast at 7-8% and has some gazillion dams being built to keep tapping into hydroelectric resources... (apparently, and the whole China already has more large dams than any other country, with over 86,000 dams built In the past 50 years, with more than 22,000 being big dams that account for almost 50% of its kind in the world. This statistic is insane!!)

Unfortunately, we are stalled on the one major project we have - Narmada (rightfully, IMO... I am all for progress - but read the various articles hyperlinked here before you say sling mud on Roy or Patkar for being anti-progress. Goddamn..let alone the environmental impact (which comes with every major project like this - see my blogpost about the Nu river project in China), but we have to deal properly with the displaced people and not just walk all over them just because they are under-privileged and have no voice.

So...more power to Arundhati Roy, MedhaPatkar, Aamir Khan, documentary & movie makers, and anyone else who give them a voice and continue fighting for this cause, giving it not only their time, money, efforts, but maybe their lives ...

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