Varied interests in the energy and power sector viz., CDM, carbon rating, Monitoring & Evaluation, Energy Management, Rural Development; Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy related matters; Demand Side Management (DSM), Energy Audits, Distributed Power Generation (Biomass, Wind,Solar and Small Hydro), Participatory Management.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

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How a phone call can light up rural India

How a phone call can light up rural India

Posted by Utpal Bhaskar on Thursday, June 3, 2010

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Indranil Bhoumik/Mint

Indranil Bhoumik/Mint

As soon you get out of the aircraft at the Biju Patnaik airport in Bhabaneshwar, the humidity (over 80 per cent and climbing!) hits you. Within minutes you are drenched in sweat. I am on my way to Garanayarchhara village in the Puri district near the world famous Konark temple to report on the UPA government's flagship electrification programme "Rajiv Gandhi Grameen" Vidyutikaran Yojana (RGGVY) under Bharat Nirman.

I am here to corroborate the rural electrification statistics provided by the Shram Shakti Bhavan, the seat of power (pun intended) for the union power ministry. I want to ascertain how the scheme is performing and whether the villages shown as covered under the scheme actually have access to electricity.

The scenery is idyllic with scores of coconut trees giving shade to the tiny strip of road towards my destination. While I am slated only to visit the Garanayarchhara village, an official overseeing the RGGVY work in the district insists that I also visit an adjoining village. His insistence amuses me. He explains the rationale—If I visit the Kajalapatia village, the chances are it might be energized. I try explaining out to him that I am only a lowly reporter, but he is insistent. I should have known better.

It has already been a very interesting day. As I reach Garanayarchhara, there is already a small crowd there. There are representatives from the Rural Electrification Corporation—the nodal agency for the scheme, NHPC Ltd and the contractor setting up the infrastructure. The executive engineer for Nimapada Electrical division, Central Electricity Supply Utility of Orissa (CESU) the distribution company, also join us.

While the villagers and the contractor A2Z Maintenance and Engineering Services Ltd. state that the high-tension line was only energized in the morning, the executive engineer insists that it was done last year. While the RGGVY officials watch the spectacle, I am getting worried, as tensions palpably rise with each side categorically denying the other's allegations. Then begins the wild goose chase of each side getting documents to prove their point. It later turns out that the document as insisted upon by the discom official is merely a piece of paper and does not even bear a signature.

The story repeats in the other village. The villagers are very happy as even their high-tension lines have been charged on the same day. I am later told that since the discom was aware about my visit, thanks to the innumerable phone calls I had placed to almost everyone in the state's electricity department, the lines had been charged. I think I may have hit upon a novel idea.

What months of to and fro between the central and the state governments can't accomplish, a flying visit by a news reporter can!  The next time I meet the minister, I should suggest this!

--
Gopinath S
Chief Executive
nRG Consulting Services, Bangalore
http://business.vsnl.com/gopinath
http://nrgcs.blogspot.com/
+91 99161 29728

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