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The people often blame the government for wrongs they commit. The classic example is clogging of the drains. It’s the people who throw their garbage in the drains or in the open causing the blockage which is one of the prime reasons for flash floods. Though the government authorities are responsible for cleaning up the drains, the public is no less responsible in keeping them free of blockage. The government is for the public and not otherwise. But, unfortunately, passing the buck has been the last resort for anyone who is responsible for something that went wrong. The Meghalaya Energy Corporation Limited (MeECL) is currently in the eye of the storm, for pushing parts of the state into darkness for as long as 11 hours. Situation in capital Shillong is slightly better – there is 9-hour load shedding! This is unprecedented in a state which was power surplus till a few years ago.

Let alone the people, chief minister Mukul Sangma also went hammer and tongue against the MeECL for the ‘mess’. He was so furious on MeECL that he said the corporation cannot always be the government’s baby. What he said was right. Everyone accepted and praised him for being so blunt about MeECL, a government undertaking. However, a deeper look into the development would reveal that the chief minister was doing nothing but giving some extra lashes to the whipping boy (MeECL). This is the easiest task to do at this moment since the MeECL’s fault is there for everyone to see. The Rs 1300 crore it spent on the Myntdu Leshka hydro-electric project of 126 MW has almost gone into the water. The plant is producing a meagre 6 MW at this hour of crisis. However, nothing much could be expected from a run-of-the-river project during this period especially when there is less than average rainfall.

Blaming the MeECL for the entire crisis is unbecoming for the chief minister. As the head of the government, he bears some responsibility too to take care of the MeECL affairs although it is an independent body with less government control. Was he not aware of the fact that the North East Electric Power Corporation (NEEPCO) had warned the MeECL of the impending power crisis two years ago? If he wasn’t, what action has he taken to pull up the MeECL authorities responsible for hushing up the matter? Such ‘blunt” statement by the chief minister might give him some positive media publicity and help win the hearts of a few voters, but nothing is going to change in the ground. People will continue to suffer from the prolonged darkness unless urgent steps are taken to ease the power crisis. At the same time, the government should take prompt steps to reduce power wastage and make long-term plans for sustainable power generation.

(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on May 2)