Bhubaneswar I By Biswajit Padhi

The Knight in whites riding the Bhubaneswar’s streets exposes the hollow electrical infrastructure of the state. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s roadshow in Bhubaneswar on 16, April was marred by an allegedly state government sponsored blackout. He had to move in darkness towards Baramunda as streetlights didn’t function. Yet Modi defied security concerns & continued his road show in the Odisha’s state capital in dark as the CESU authorities went blank in the right time. BJP is crying hoarse that it is the handiwork of a mean BJD led government which wanted the road show to flop. Had Sambit Patra been in national capital donning the mike in any studio, he would have definitely cried sabotage, hold your breath, for a potential terrorist attack on the PM. The second most popular allegation in drawing room circles is the mean  government which has not only shown political bankruptcy but has defamed the state of Odisha. When the world is watching you through billions of Television shows & mobile screens across the globe, you choose to go dark & this just goes on to prove how precarious your electricity system is. And if the power situation is not bad, then the intention of the government is more sinister.

Though not very recently, the Odisha government had gone on an overdrive to attract foreign investment. Yet what has to offer? That the state can’t provide a system which at least lights the streets of the state capital. May be, one can not come across a more dumb poll manager who orchestrated the event. The opposition has been alleging that women are not safe in Odisha. With a good crime rate in the state capital, the least the bosses could have done is to lighten the streets bright.

Very recently, a bureaucratic managed show was given the credit for brightening up the entire state with LED street lights. The bureaucrats were visible at the way the work was executed from the beginning to end, efficiently. Contractors from outside the state were roped in who moved to each of the urban areas to change the bulbs in a record time. So it is obvious that the Bhubaneswar street lights also have a out state connection ?.

A decade ago, I had met an industrial consultant from Mumbai who told me about “the ease of doing business” , when the phrase was perhaps not as popular as today. Electricity is the soul of any industry & uninterrupted power supply is the point number one when any industry is discussed. Assuming that the politicians are duffers , more so in Naveen’s regime, the mandarins who have toured many parts of the world at government’s expenses could have done well to present the state in a good manner when the Prime Minister had ensured a billion eye’s focus on the Odisha’s state capital.

The incident also brings to light the sheer apathy of the 19 year old BJD government in improving infrastructure to attract industries to the state. Though the state government claims to be a power surplus state, it is an accepted norm that power cuts are enforced in the name of load restrictions ( LR).  All the distribution companies fleece the upcoming entrepreneurs by asking them to put up their own power transformers before starting an industry, thus enhancing costs. Mr Suvendu Patnaik, an expert dealing in energy sector says that Odisha is one of the few states where entrepreneurs have to bribe at multiple levels to get a power connection for industry. A close look at the instructions of SLDC ( State Load Despatch Centre) reveals that various utilities are instructed to resort to LR as the power generation from all sources fail to meet the peak load demand. If the street lights went off without a LR from SLDC, one has to presume the incident was planned. And if there was LR, then officials of SLDC needs to be sacked for not doing their job of balancing. Keeping politics aside, the state government need to take stern action against the officials responsible for the fiasco to save the image of the state.

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