Monday, August 20, 2012

Moily for jailing chief secretaries; but don’t ignore these 5 power-points

ALL those who suffered from the recent grid collapse that crippled normal life in half of India, will be delighted to hear what new power minister Veerappa Moily said recently. While talking to an English news channel, Moily said he was contemplating to have a provision in the law whereby the chief secretary can be jailed if the state is found guilty to overdraw power. Yes, accountability is important, but can you jail the chief secretary? Here are five power-points:
1) Having a provision to jail chief secretaries may not go very well with the states. India has a federal structure. It is advisable that such a provision be inserted into law books only after taking the states on board.

2) Why should only a bureaucrat or a technical person be made accountable for such a massive grid collapse? What’s about political accountability?

3) Can we fix the power problems by punishing a few officers perceived to be influential in state power corridors? Of course not. The peak power deficit is over 11%, and the government has repeatedly failed to achieve power production target. And hence there is overdrawing.

4) The reality is: the more you produce, the more losses you incur. Over 25% of power is lost in transmission and distribution itself. The power tariff is still less, and any hike is politically sensitive. Forget incentives, power producers make a loss if they venture into producing more power.

5) Punishing officers must not be limited to power sector alone. Like the allocation of business, there can be clear provisions of punishment across sectors. But all that can come only when you make provisions of incentives for performing officers. Secretary in Cabinet Secretariat Prajapati Trivedi has done a lot of homework during the last couple of years to formulate a policy to give incentives to performing babus. But the Cabinet is yet to okay it.

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