Forced Not to Work
Of late, political leaders have waxed eloquent on the need to usher an age of industrial development in Assam. The recently installed government of Assam has also been talking of industrial development. And because it is perhaps better aware of the close link between industrial development and electricity, it has also been talking a lot about augmenting the power potential of the State. Unfortutely, during the last four decades, we have had no planning for more power for the State keeping in mind its growth of population as well as the rapid increase in the use of equipments that require electrical energy. During these four decades we have had much talk as usual, but no implementation at all. As a result, even the meagre installed capacity of 514 MW that the Assam State Electricity Board (ASEB) had in 2001 has got reduced to just about 200 MW. This is a shocking and shameful state of affairs, and the bureaucracy in Assam is much to blame, considering that it has always been the duty of the bureaucracy to guide the political bosses in such matters. Somehow, the bureaucracy in Assam gives the distinct impression of regarding the augmentation of our power generating capacity as some sort of a luxury undertaking, which it is certainly not. In fact, it has become impossible to perform several quotidian functions like filling one’s car with petrol, ones tyres with air or one’s wallet with currency notes from an ATM without electricity. We often forget that people all over the world could not have used their billions of cell phones without the batteries that provide the electrical power and the batteries would have been dead without the benefit of the AC mains that charge them. And many of the things that we did manually in the past, we now do with electrical power—such as washing clothes, ironing clothes or getting our toast for breakfast. Today, all over the world, one outstanding indicator of progress is the per capita consumption of electricity. We cannot pretend to differ merely because we have neglected to plan for power for four decades. We are being forced not to work because the State cannot provide people the electricity they need for work.