JAMMU: When a Jammu based senior minister took a city-ride with roads given face lift beyond the Canal Head on Thursday evening, he would have hardly believed that this particular ‘cozy’ stretch remains hub of filth, encroachment on pavements and most irritating traffic congestion. The white dotted clean roads might have given him a big mood swing but the commoners showed sarcastic indifference to the visit; reason being total neglect of all the concerned governmental agencies to basic services. They remain neck-deep involved in the mess Jammu is destined to. The high-profile visit of the VIP in the company of handful cohorts, sycophant officials and a couple of photographers does not mean all is well in the Duggarland. The city is grappling to brave difficult summer months ahead, as power and drinking water supply has already started playing truant.
Experience of the past few years stand testimony to the fact that erratic supply of power, voltage fluctuation and burning of transformers generally remain nobody’s concern, neither of those sitting on the hot seat of power in Srinagar nor of the ministers, making frequent jaunts for quick photo sessions besides the whole lot of administration in the so-called winter capital.
Having failed to lay any impact during past over two months, the Jammu leadership in the current coalition dispensation should now put their act together and assert their position as ministers, not as subservient. Compromise on fundamentals alright, they cannot denial of basics to the people, who have voted them to power with a huge mandate. They have to perform or perish. Supply of power is going to be a litmus test the party with difference and, therefore, it better gear up for the big challenge. A mechanism is needed to be evolved to check outages and pilferages.
There has been a criminal nexus between the department and the unscrupulous elements, who hook the connection and make injudicious use of the scarce power, much to the discomfort of bonafide consumers. Walk across any street and you will find a net of cables taunting at the system. Same is true about some industrial units which have failed to pay for the facility they consume due to political and administrative patronage. There are shocking reports about some units and even the government departments running in the arrears beyond Rs 10 lakhs. If the vested interests do not pay and those responsible to claim fail in discharging their legitimate duties, the end sufferers would be the commoners.
Successive governments have been insensitive to the needs of Jammu region-be it drinking water or the power, the basics of summer like the one people are just ushering in. This happens even though the people pay for what they consume. Statistics show that Jammu division has been consuming less of electricity and paying more as tariff compared to the Kashmir division. The statistics also show for themselves the glaring gap between consumption and payment of dues in the two regions. Take for example the power consumption and revenue realization of the two divisions during the past few years, the difference will be discernible. While Kashmir division consumed 17,444 MUs of power between 2009 and 2012, the Jammu region utilized only 11,990 MUs. And, interestingly, the revenue realisation on account of tariff was Rs 1,159 crore in Kashmir against Rs 1,816 crore in the Jammu region. Jammu consumed 5,454 MUs less power than Kashmir and paid Rs 657 crore more tariff. Same has been the scenario during the past two years as well. With all these positives, the people of Jammu deserved a better deal but for the unenergetic leadership, which has been suffering from second-fiddle syndrome. The present set of helmsmen has crossed all the limits of crawling before the Kashmir centric leadership.
The inherent inertia of Jammu leaders has left the region politically powerless. Therefore, the crisis on account of power, among other things, seems to be a fate accompli for the unfortunate people of this region.
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