The power situation is likely to be worse this winter. If not anything else, the water level in Umiam is a difference. There is at least a difference of 30 feet between the water levels of this October and last year’s. In fact, last year water had to be released from the dam thrice during this period due to incessant rains reaching the highest intake point. The situation is too far from such possibility this year. Besides, there is no headway towards payment of dues to North Eastern Electric Power Corporation (NEEPCO) by the Meghalaya Energy Corporation Ltd (MeECL). The government’s assurance to be the guarantor for loan to be taken by the MeECL to pay the dues, nearly Rs 470 crore, has not yielded any result so far.

The load-shedding duration has been half an hour in the heart of Shillong city for over a month, barring the Durga Puja festival days. Besides there used to be irregular power cuts for 10-15 minutes, which could happen due to technical snag, and not necessarily for lack of power. But the situation is not the same in villages just on the outskirts of Shillong. The people in these areas are deprived of power in most part of the day. MeECL’s first priority might be to quell the angry voices in Shillong. Even the ‘small noises’ made from Shillong is heard from across the state because of the strong media presence. On the other hand, acute sufferings of a villager can hardly reach the media and the authorities concerned. Presence of high profile people, including those from MeECL, ‘compels’ the Corporation to push most of the burden to rural populace.

Due to the very low water level and ever increasing power consumption, the MeECL is likely to have to buy maximum power from outside this time. But as the Corporation is already in neck-deep debt with NEEPCO and other entities, for sure, it cannot meet the demand this winter even in the city. The only way out is heavy power cut. Shillong must prepare for it.

(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on October 28, 2016)

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