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Home / Opinion / Dark ages: Editorial on BJP govt turning a blind eye to crisis

Dark ages: Editorial on BJP govt turning a blind eye to crisis

At least five states reeling under massive electricity outages as Centre looks the other way
The Centre, nervous about the coal crisis blackening its face, has had the audacity to deny that there is anything wrong but the Opposition has been handed a political weapon.
The Centre, nervous about the coal crisis blackening its face, has had the audacity to deny that there is anything wrong but the Opposition has been handed a political weapon.
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The Editorial Board   |   Published 03.05.22, 02:58 AM

Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party have their eyes turned perpetually towards the past. It is thus unsurprising that the Centre seems intent on returning India to summers that brought in their wake prolonged disruptions in power. At least five states — Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Haryana — have been reeling under massive electricity outages even as India is being scorched by one of its cruellest summers. Acute shortage in coal inventories — the consequences of government mismanagement — is the cause of the crisis. The results of this apathy are frightening. Data show that electricity supply fell short of demand by 1.88 billion units — 1.6 per cent — in April: the paucity was the worst that the country had faced in six years. Power plants with massive production capacities have, as a result, been rendered inoperable: the stock of coal was reportedly running dangerously low in 106 power plants out of a total of 173. There is rising concern that the disruption could further cripple small industries that have been adversely impacted by the pandemic. The resultant possibility of unemployment poses yet another challenge for the government. Already, data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy have indicated a spike in unemployment in April along with a drastic fall in the labour participation rate.

The Centre’s response has been typical. The railways ministry has been directed to cancel passenger trains temporarily to expedite the supply of coal. This is another instance of Mr Modi’s government treating the symptoms rather than the disease. The real cause of the crisis, as has been notified in a statement by the All India Power Engineers Federation, is the woeful coordination among the ministries of coal, power and the railways. States bearing the brunt of the crisis have been asked by the Centre, yet again, to begin importing coal. This will undoubtedly increase the financial burden on these states. The request is hardly an ideal advertisement for federal cooperation. The Centre, nervous about the coal crisis blackening its face, has had the audacity to deny that there is anything wrong but the Opposition has been handed a political weapon. In a rare imaginative campaign, the Congress has decided to expose Mr Modi’s hollow pledges not just on coal shortage but also on price rise. The prime minister and his government must respond by alleviating public suffering.



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