Thursday, August 19, 2010

92 pc or 9.2 pc, it is the same !

This is outrageous and the persons responsible for the fiasco, which looks like a deliberate attempt to insult the intelligence of the public, should be brought to book and judged according to the law of the land. We are referring here to the supposedly ‘official record’ maintained by the Electricity Department, which says that 92 percent of the villages in Manipur have been electrified. Or are they going to say that there was a typographical mistake somewhere and the typist forgot to hit the dot button between 9 and 2 ? This record, we suppose, was fudged to fall in line with the objective of the Centre, which has set 2012 as the deadline for the entire country to be electrified. There is nothing wrong in the Centre to set up such a deadline however impractical or down right impossible it may be, but trying to mislead the public by lying through the teeth should not be tolerated, more so when it comes from the Government Departments. Forget about connecting the villages with High Tension wire which transmits power to the villages, we are apt to believe that none of the Government Departments have any idea on the number of villages existing in the State, or the criteria that goes to define a place as a village. This is more so in the face of displacement due to reasons, such as ethnic conflict like the Naga-Kuki clash of the early 90s or the Kuki-Paite clash in the latter part of the last century. There must be a reason why some jokers in the Electricity Department have come under the impression that they can get away with such an audacious claim and the reason is not far to seek. For too long a Government job has come to mean, freebies or free lunches, in the perception of the public in Manipur, so much so that nothing worthwhile is expected from the Government employees. In fact some of the Government Departments are nothing more than white elephants, which do nothing except drain the State's exchequer and line the pockets of some. Such a culture can thrive only in an atmosphere where the public have been taken for granted by the people who matter and the latest lie coming from the Electricity Department, is but just another manifestation of the overall rot that has become part and parcel of public life in Manipur. There are a few questions we would like to raise here and that is, why the Electricity Department should resort to such a white lie so blatantly. The answer is not far to seek, if we go by the culture of contract works and supply orders and its records. There are bound to be some substances in the observation of the general public that the transformer installed in their neighbourhood was bought from the junk market and installed just to make up for the number and in the process pocket the money meant for purchasing the working and reliable transformer. This cannot happen without the knowledge of the higher ups and it is this unholy nexus among the political netas, the babudom and the professional frauds, who come in different shapes and sizes, which has prospered at the expense of the general public. Another example we can quote is the oft repeated allegations of a village being lit on the day of the inauguration only to find that it has been switched off the next day, which will be for eternity !
‘Logic’ says that to tell the world and to inform those whom the racketeers may be answerable, a record has to be created or fudged to show that so and so villages have been electrified and hence the show of the inaugural function of a village getting electrified or pictures of the responsible people standing proudly by a newly installed transformer, are splashed through the media, of course after paying the requisite advertisement fees. For all we know, the State Electricity Department may have actually ‘used’ all the funds meant to electrify the villages, to line the pockets of, we know who, thereby necessitating the need to whip up such a record to show to Delhi or whoever they are answerable to. There is no guarantee that such an audacious and doctored record are not present in other Government Departments and in all likelihood, all Government Departments may have fudged their official record at one point of time or the other, which reflects the existence of a system where masters in the game of manipulating figures and accounts live off the money meant for the common people. In other words, we may say that the Electricity Department was unfortunate to have been caught with its pants down, while other Departments have escaped scot free. Such is the level to which we have sunk. The recent furore kicked up by the Opposition or more specifically Mr O Joy Singh of the MPP, that the Government is sitting over the recommendations of the Vigilance Department in many cases of large scale corruption, says something very significant. For one, it can mean that the Government is not convinced with the reports submitted by the Vigilance Department and secondly it can mean that it too has a hand in such scams and implementing the recommendations of the Vigilance Department would amount to spitting on one's own face. If the Government finds any loopholes in any of the recommendations made by the Vigilance Department, then a fresh probe may be ordered but since this has not been the case, we can only imagine on what ground the Government is sitting over such sensitive reports. Forget about electrifying 92 percent of the villages in the State, can the Electricity Department say that they have supplied power non-stop to a locality for more than six hours ? Or better still, can it claim to have supplied power for more than six hours in 24 hours in any part of the State ? 92 pc of villages electrified ! This will go down as the lie of the year.

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