EDITORIAL

Elusive search

With the festival season having drawn to a close, extended load shedding fear has already been receiving fuel through the comments of no other than the Minister for Energy. It is as if to provide the stimulus for preparedness that he has been on record of saying that the outage will be in the range of 10 or 12 hours on a daily basis. This figure has sparked a sense of hopelessness among the electricity users, many of them being industries. A reminder of last years' massive power cuts of up to 18 hours per day is still fresh in the minds of the people. It is true that not more than 20 per cent of the people have access to electricity, yet the impact can be seen all around in every sector. The overall fall out has been in the diminished production from industries and factories. As a chain reaction the GDP is bound to suffer in the lack of any alternative means of energy generation. It has been reported that the power woes will continue with unceasing regularity, because the supply cannot keep pace with the demand. With only a few hydropower projects lined up, there are no reasons to believe that the future will promise a ray of hope.

If it is to be believed that the power cuts will stay for three years more, it comes as good tidings. But, the reality speaks otherwise. Herein, it must be remembered that hydropower plants take inordinately long gestation period when mega-projects are taken into consideration. It is another matter that micro-hydel plants are doing well though there aren't enough going around. The emphasis, as usual, theoretically speaking, has been on big projects for which huge investments are required which the country itself cannot generate. The recourse is to search for investor/s which is not an easy task. Moreover, when investors are willing, the terms and conditions cannot be flattering. It may be fit to keep in mind the flaws of the past planning which could not come up with any vision on power generation and distribution taking into consideration the long term strategy. The past planners' deficiencies have been the curse that the present day power users have had to suffer, with no sight of better days coming. The paradox remains with the country being identified as having immense hydro potential.

Talks about generating 10,000 MW in ten years

or 25,000 MW in 20 or so years does not mean

anything unless the logistics for such are set in

motion in earnest. Going by the working of every government in the past, there were more words of

assurances floating around rather than a set of

action plans implemented to raise the power in the central grid. What is needed is serious commitment for raising power output, rather than selling dreams to the power-hungry people. Even now, knowing

well the implications of long hours of load shedding on the economy, there does not seem very genuine efforts in trying to find ways and means to mitigate the problem. The biggest hindrance, in the recent years, has been unstable politics that has veered attention to the play of power politics rather than steps to alleviate the miseries of the people in every sphere of day-to-day life.

Old story

The recent landslides caused by incessant rains in the western and far western districts apart from taking a heavy toll of human lives and property

has also blocked many roads. Since most of the districts are difficult to access without roads, the

road blocks has made life for the people residing there difficult. Now we see a shortage of daily commodities and medicines in these remote districts. The government should ensure that adequate supply of these reach the area. This will ensure that the unscrupulous do not take advantage of the situation by hoarding, and selling the commodities and medicines at an inflated rate.

Unless immediate measures are taken, the situation might get out of hand. Repairing the damaged roads should receive priority. In the meantime, airlifting of the essential commodities to the people who are in need of them should also be considered. In this hour of need, all the countrymen should assist their brethrens residing in the western and far western regions to all extent possible so that the necessary items are made available to the needy. When the picture was already clear, the government should have worked on a war-footing to get the roads repaired for smooth vehicular movement.