“Be the change you wish to see” – Mahatma Gandhi.
We’ve heard and re-heard these words over and over again but seems like the people of Haryana and Rajasthan are the first to make it a part of their daily lifestyle. An impeccable change came about in the power situation of these two places. How? Simply because the people decided to!
A simple community participation at district level witnessed a huge fall in the power transmission and distribution (T&D) losses, often cited as the reason for electricity shortages. For power to reach everyone at all time it is very important that the consumers consciously take part in this process and do their duties as responsible citizens – pay the bills.
This is exactly what Haryana Chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhra Raje did. They explained to people in a host of rural belts. People were explained how power theft was leading to building of T&D losses and was reducing power supplies to their homes. People were educated on how T&D losses are incurred when the population to which power is supplied, falls short in paying their bills.
And the results astonished everybody. T&D losses, that had mounted to over 70% in many places were cut down in almost halves, people were owning up to their responsibilities as citizens and making sure that everyone around them did the same.
Haryana Chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar launched the Mhara Gaon, Jagmag Gaon (MGJG) scheme in the state to deal with the problem of T&D losses.
Under the scheme the government aimed at providing 24 hours of uninterrupted power by strengthening the distribution network and the bill collection process simultaneously.
Shifting meters, Bill payment in installments, bijli panchayat etc are some steps under this format that they followed.
The initiative motivated the citizens to act responsibly and pay up, which shows in the results as the losses have gone down from 70% to 40 – 43% and from 40% to just 10% (as in Raiwali feeder, Ambala Circle).
As for Rajasthan the Urja Mitra (power friends) model is being implemented. The model was developed over a pleasantly short period of time but has an interesting story behind it.
Women are said to be the ushers of change in society and the situation in Rajasthan has only gone ahead to establish this yet again.
A 60- year old Chhoti Hudda from the Bithur district near Nasirabad was sitting outside on the stairs since their was no electricity inside, when she met Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhra Raje, who was there as part of her Nyay aapke dwaar pe initiative.
When asked why she was sitting out she complained of no electricity. Madam CM immediately asked her officials as to why her situation was such to which her officials informed her that under the January T&D scheme their village incurred T&D losses over 40% due to which power was cut short.
Turning to the eager people Vasundhra ji explained that getting power for their village was in fact in their own hands because despite all the required arrangements, electricity would only reach them when they owned up to their responsibilities and paid their electricity bills in turn reducing the T&D losses for their village. As the men silently watched the women decided that it was time things changed around there.
On May 24th they made all the villagers pledge against power theft, meter altering, payment delays and ignoring the power theft. It wasn’t long before electricity raced to the village as it’s losses fell all the way to around 17% at the Bhimpura feder, responsible for supply to Bhimpura, naya gaon, devpura and Maliyon ki dhani.
The women were cautious keeping an eye out for power theft and making sure anyone found stealing was reported to the vigilance teams. Despite repeatedly being told to ‘mind their own business’ the women kept at their goal and not surprisingly, results were seen. This motivated more and more people to be conscientious and watchful citizens who not only made sure that they were fulfilling their obligations but were also aware and vigilant against theft.
Not only this but they also encourages families stealing power to opt for connections and they were successful in getting 20 such connections. 20 new power connections meant 20 less families stealing power!
We often point fingers at the government for everything that goes wrong in our community. What we rarely consider is that while government has put in place various plans to benefit the people, what are we as people doing to ensure that these schemes are able to deliver to us what we expect of them.
The government has done its job by paving the way for you; the real question is when will you decide to walk on it!
Currently, Writing a Book for Penguin India Titled Greased Pole:How Politics and Lobbying Stifled India’s Energy Dreams. The author can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org (9810661825)
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