DISAPPEARING FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

Thursday, June 5, 2014

BHOPAL UTILITIES HAVE FAILED THE CITIZENS

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None of the utilities in the town is efficient and are functioning much, much below par. Take for instance power. Despite claims of uninterrupted supply there are at least half a dozen instances of outages for varying periods every day. We are told that the state is surplus in power and is out to sell it to other states, yet in its capital there are disruptions galore.

A week or so ago announcements in newspapers were being made about power disruptions for around six hours every day in almost 60 to 70% areas of the town. The reason given was maintenance. One doesn't know the kind of maintenance that was done but disruptions continue. Worse, the power supplied is not stable, the voltage fluctuates and on one occasion it went down to 50. The compressor of our fridge was knocked out. One of these days the compressor of
the air- conditioner may also conk out. At night the voltage keeps going up and down. Newspapers report that in One Tree Hill area people, apart from getting sleepless nights because of sharply dipping voltage, are up against the problem of knocked out fridges and air conditioners.


The question that arises is, are we really technically way up in the scale? That prowess is not visible in any sphere. For the last so many years our electrical engineers have been unable to fix the problems of uninterrupted and unstable power. It is not enough to supply power; what is important is its quality. A few years ago even farmers had demanded good quality power and had said that they wouldn't mind paying for it instead getting it free – which, in any case is unstable and erratic.

Almost similar is the case of our telecom system. The local telecom authorities are running a rotten broadband service; it is as unstable as power. Intermittently the connections are snapped and one has to wait for it to make a reappearance. In the evenings  both, broadband and GPRS become mostly unavailable. The much touted 3 G is as bad. Connections are frequently snapped and on many occasions the service remains unavailable for long lengths of time. It is expensive but is inefficient. One wonders whether the army of telecom officers that we have using 3G face the same problems and, if so, why cannot they set it right?

The third utility is the municipal corporation which takes care of water supply to the city. One wonders what kind of people look after this vital aspect of public activity as millions of litres of water are lost every year because of leaks – major or minor. Somehow or other the municipal engineers have not been able to come up with any satisfactory measures to prevent major leaks where enormous quantities of precious water gush out with tremendous force and flow into drains.

I have personal knowledge of a valve near the Idgah that has been leaking for the last ten years or so despite repeated efforts of the municipality. The surrounding roads are repeatedly done up as the leaks ruin them. Maintaining leak-proof water supply lines seems to be rocket science for the municipality. Or perhaps solving a problem permanently cuts the recurring extra income that the people concerned have got used to. And so the leaks continue – to hell with water conservation

The city cannot go forward with such constraints. While because of the electricity outages and erratic broadband service millions of productive man-hours are lost every year, because of water leakages we are allowing wastage of a precious resource in millions of litres when hundreds of thousands struggle to get a pail of it every day




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