COAL SCAM : OPEN LOOT


An Article from ‘Common Man Speaks’

18 AUG/12
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Judging by the latest CAG report that has brought to light the coal scam or coalgate worth Rs 1.86 lakh crore, we can say that no other government has brought as much shame to India in its tenure as the current UPA. With this scam, the government has achieved an almost impossible feat of breaking its own record of Rs 1.70 lakh crore, which was scored in the 2G scam.
By cartoonist Kureel Manoj
But during all these scams, what has been more annoying is that they have never accepted the fact that there is a scam in the first place. In the case of this coal scam too, the Congress has refused to accept the CAG report! Naturally, due to such denials, they have also rubbished off all possibilities of at least a probe in the issue.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was the Coal Minister when the scam took place but he, along with his party, has plainly refused to take responsibility and worse, even speak anything on it! Like a number of scams that has happened during his tenure, he has washed his hands off of this one too, whose estimated figure is just unthinkable!

It is also impossible to forget that exactly a year ago, Singh had given a written promise to Anna Hazare of passing a strong Lokpal Bill. We all know how his promise turned out to be a sad joke. This also proves he and his government just don’t want a decline (forget end) in corruption.

With scams worth unthinkable amounts taking place right under Singh’s nose and he not doing a thing about it, the big question is – What right he has to continue to sit on the chair of the PM? Sorry to say this but we have had enough of your silent (in actions as well) attitude to a long list of scams amounting to lakhs of crores of loss to the country. As it is, due to the pro-corruption attitude of you and your so-called government, you have proved to be as good as the British! If you have 0.001% shame left, please resign

Coalaveri: When Netadom Went Mining

Most Companies Against Whom CBI Has Filed FIRs Have Links With Political Heavyweights

Josy Joseph TNN

       New Delhi: Most of the companies against whom FIRs were filed by the CBI on Tuesday have either direct or indirect links with the politically powerful. Sources in CBI and CVC say more cases could be filed soon, naming more companies with political connections.

     On Tuesday, the CBI named Nav Bharat Power, JLD Yavatmal, JAS Infrastructure and AMR Iron and Steel among the firms accused of cheating and suppressing facts to get blocks. Nav Bharat was started by two individuals from Andhra Pradesh and sold to Essar, CBI says, for a staggering profit. Essar, charged in the 2G scam, bought Nav Bharat as a subsidiary of Essar Power, which in turn is a subsidiary of Essar Energy Plc.

     Of the other four companies, JLD Yavatmal and JAS Infrastructure are associated with Congress MP and publishing baron Vijay Darda. While JLD Yavatmal is reportedly named after his father, he had a minority stake in JAS Infrastructure, where his business partner was Manoj Jayaswal. Darda has denied he used his influence to help these companies. The CBI FIR names Darda.

    Jayaswal and associates have over 20 coal blocks. The Abhijeet group’s promoter is said to have regularly hosted senior Congress and BJP leaders at his home and functions like his children’s weddings.
Vaibhav Tulsyan, a businessman who started Vini Iron and Steel Udyog, too was raided. He said he had sold the company to an associate of Madhu Koda, former Jharkhand CM, now in jail for corruption.

       “Because of Naxal problem we couldn’t run the company. When Vijay Joshi, a close Koda aide approached us with a good offer, we sold the company to him. At the time of coal block allocation, the company was with Joshi,” Tulsyan told a news agency. Filings with the corporate affairs ministry say by 2011, Vijay Joshi was holding over 97% of company shares.
Recently, it emerged that union minister Subodh Kant Sahai in 2008 recommended to the PMO a coal block for a company in which his brother was director.
PRIVATE UNLIMITED Snapshot of the five companies CBI filed charges against 
NAV BHARAT POWER
(Hyderabad)
Sold to Essar in 2010
Promoter of Nav Bharat Prasad Brothers
Got coal blocks in Rampia and Dip-side Rampia in Orissa
Directors | P Trivikrama Prasad, YHC Prasad
VINI IRON AND STEEL UDYOG (Kolkata)
Sold to Vijay Joshi, close aide of Madhu Koda
Accused named by CBI promoter Vaibhav Tulsyan
Got coal blocks in Rajhara North in Jharkhand Directors | Sanjeev Tulsyan, Prashant Tulsyan, Vaibhav Tulsyan, Nisha Tulsyan, Vimal Tulsyan, Nirmala Tulsyan, Hemant Kr Agarwal, Navin Tulsyan
JLD YAVATMAL ENERGY
(Nagpur)
Got coal block in Fatehpur East in Chhattisgarh
Promoted by Jayaswal Group, close aides of MP Vijay Darda Directors | Vijay Darda, Rajendra Darda, Devendra Darda, Manoj Jayaswal, Anand Jayaswal, Abhishek Jayaswal
JAS INFRASTRUCTURE CAPITAL (Nagpur)
Got coal block in Matihagarhi in Jharkhand
Promoted by Jayaswal Group, aides of MP Vijay Darda Directors | Manoj Jayaswal, Abhishek Jayaswal, Anand Jayaswal
AMR IRON AND STEEL
(Nagpur)
Got Bander coal block in Maharashtra
Promoted by Jayaswal Group, aides of MP Vijay Darda Directors | Arvind Jayaswal, Manoj Jayaswal, Ramesh Jayaswal, Devendra Darda

CBI at JLD Yavatmal Energy Limited office in Nagpur

One family that struck gold in coal mines

Supriya Sharma TNN

       New Delhi: Of the five companies raided on Tuesday, three belong to one family – the Nagpur-based Jayaswals. Split in two businesses, they are among the largest beneficiaries in the coal block allocations, holding 10 blocks with more than 900 million tonnes of coal. What is more striking is that they managed to get such a large allocation with only one project running on the ground.
Outside Raipur, in the smog-filled industrial area of Siltara, exists a steel plant run by Jayaswal Neco company. Headed by the family patriarch Basant Lal Jayaswal, the company is managed by his son Ramesh Jayaswal. Until a few years ago, Ramesh’s elder Manoj was part of the Neco Group. But following a family feud, he branched out, taking control of companies under the banner of Abhijeet Group.
Business circles in the region believed the brothers had parted on an acrimonious note and that their businesses, Neco and Abhijeet group, were separate. But on Tuesday, when an unknown company AMR Iron and Steel was raided, and journalists scoured through its returns filed with the registrar of companies, they discovered that the brothers jointly held stake in the company, with their father and family. People in Nagpur are now speculating if AMR in the company’s name stands for ‘Arvind, Manoj, Ramesh’. Arvind is their older brother. But the larger question is how did one family corner 10 blocks. Part of the answer could lie in the family’s political clout. One of the directors of JLD Yavatmal, in which Manoj holds partial stake, was Devendra Darda, son of Congress MP Vijay Darda.

       Abhijeet Group seemed to have the ability to win the support of bureaucrats. Of the six blocks it was allotted, five lie in Jharkhand. Meanwhile, Jayaswal Neco features among 58 companies that were issued show cause notices this year for “unsatisfactory progress” in their projects. The review committee noted the company had not shown any progress in expanding its plant in Siltara for which it had been allocated 215 million tonne mine in Jharkhand and 107 million tonne mine in Chhattisgarh – a staggering allocation. Strikingly, even in 2010, the committee had made similar observations, asking for show cause notices to be issued to the company, adding that the Chhattisgarh HC had ordered the state government not to allow the expansion of the plant.
In the case of Abhijeet group, which obtained three coal blocks in 2005 for a sponge iron plant, not only has the company shown no progress in setting up the plant, seven years after it got a block, it has not even finalized where its plant would be. Again, both in 2010 and 2012, the company was issued show cause notices, but no action was taken.

ALL IN THE FAMILY 

     Of five cos raided on Tuesday, three belong to one family — the Nagpur-based Jayaswals
Family patriarch Basant Jayaswal. Three sons Ramesh, Manoj & Arvind
Ramesh manages Jayaswal Neco Group. Father is group chairman. Manoj (pic) heads Abhijeet Group
ABHIJEET GROUP HAS SIX COAL BLOCKS
Jharkhand | Five blocks
Chhattisgarh | Fatehpur East (Allocated to JLD Yavatmal Energy)
These six add up to 444 mn tonnes of coal
Jayaswal cos raided today
AMR Iron and Steel (jointly held) | JAS Infrastructure (Abhijeet Group) | JLD Yavatmal (Abhijeet Group & Darda Family)
JAYASWAL NECO GROUP HAS THREE COAL BLOCKS
Chattisgarh | Gare Palma IV/4 Gare Palma IV/8 Jharkhand | Moitra
These add up to
447 mn tonnes
JOINT OWNERSHIP: AMR
Three brothers jointly own AMR Iron and Steel, allocated a 31 mn tonne block Bander, Maharashtra
Between them, 10 blocks and 917 mn tonnes of coal

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Mumbai Flat Buyers: VAT Problems


Onus to pay VAT is on builder, not buyer: Govt

Rajshri Mehta TNN

      Mumbai: In a bid to quell doubts about payment of value added tax (VAT) on properties bought between June 20, 2006 andMarch 31,2010,thesalestax department has put up a list of frequently asked questions with answers on its website (http://mahavat.gov.in/Mahavat/index.jsp).

      The department has clearly stated that the onus to pay the tax liability is on the developer and not the property buyer. It further said that builders’ tax liability will be adjusted againsttheinstallments paidby them so far. Although builders claim theVATis5% of the value of a flat, the sales tax departmentsaiditwillworkouttoless than 3%.

    Whilethe FAQs may slightly quell the disquiet among property buyers, the state governmentis yettospellouthowitintends to protect buyers, especially those who were not informed of the likely VAT charge, those who had given bank guarantees and deposits to developerswhilebooking flats.
“I learnt I have to pay Rs 3 lakh asVATonly when Iwentto meet the developer for some paper work. He never told me about VAT when I took possession of the flat in 2009. Why should I pay when I was not told about it,” said a Pune-based senior army officer.

    Fifteen residents of a posh Navi Mumbai housing society are wondering what legal recourse to take after their developer recently sentthem a notice demanding Rs 3.57 lakh as VAT. “The developer has threatened to forfeit our bank guarantee if wedon’t pay,” said a resident.

     “On what grounds is the builder asking me to give a cheque when the bank guarantee is in his possession? It is equivalent to paying the VAT. Who will reimburse me for the interest I lost for five years when my guarantee was lying with the developer,” asked a flat owner from Vashi.
“Thoughwe paidVAT at5%, welearntthe amountworksout to less. Who will refund the excess VAT I paid to the developer,” asked another buyer.

    VAT YOU SHOULD KNOW 
Q. When is VAT applicable from? A. June 20, 2006

Q. On what type of contracts is VAT payable? A. VAT is payable on the sale of under-construction flats. It is not payable if a completed flat is sold by the developer

Q. Who has to pay VAT if a developer didn’t tell the buyer about VAT when s/he purchased the flat post 2006? A. The developer

Q. Will VAT apply if the agreement to sell an underconstruction flat was executed before June 20, 2006 and the possession was given after June 20, 2006? Will the amount received prior to June 20, 2006 be exempt from VAT? A. Yes. VAT will be levied on the value received or receivable after June 20, 2006

Source: http://mahavat.gov. in/Mahavat/index.jsp

Mumbai Flat Buyers( 06 – 10) : Hope to pay less VAT


06-’10 flat buyers may have to pay less VAT

Govt May Waive Registration Delay Penalty

Rajshri Mehta TNN

     Mumbai: People who brought properties in under-construction projects between 2006 and 2010can relax a little.

     Fresh calculations by the sales tax department peg the value-added tax (VAT) they have to pay at .5% to 3% of the value of the property mentionedin the agreement.Developers, most of whom are affiliated to Maharashtra Chamber of Housing Industry (MCHI), however, maintained that the amount worked to 5% or more.

      The second reason for cheer is the indications from a government source that it might waive the penalty for delayed payment of the tax component, thereby benefiting the buyers. Before 2006, no VAT was levied on property sale. The state introduced it in 2006 after the Supreme Court passed an order in 2005, putting developers andcontractorsin the samebracket.
The tax liability, say officials, varies because of several parameters such as construction costs incurred by developers (who collect the amount from buyers) after deducting the land price, which accounts for almost 70-80% of the total costsin Mumbai.

     The tax liability will go up in proportion to the construction cost, meaning, buyers will have to pay more as tax if they bought their properties and registered them later; construction costs have steadily been increasing in Mumbai.

      Both developers as well as government officials agree that it was the buyers who are caught in a battle between them. The interest that buyers will now pay—if they delayed registering the property after its purchase—isbecauseof the case that was going on in court and the developers’ confidence about winning it.

      The MCHI and Confederation of Real EstateDevelopers’ Association of India (Credai) have, nevertheless, moved the apex court, challenging the constitutional validity of the government’s move to term developers as contractors andlevy VAT.Likein mostindustries,thehugetax is being passedon totheenduser.

      Buyers are fighting back in whatever way they can. Some havestartedwriting blog posts, whileothers are meeting developers, telling them about their predicament. “We are suffering because of the fight between developers and the government,” a buyer in Malad said. Tax officials pointed out that since April 2012, when the order was passed againstdevelopers,13 buildershadcollected fullliability of Rs20crorefrom consumers but did not deposit it with the department. Asked a buyer, “Why should we pay interest,when wehave already paid the tax amounts to the developers?” “We have already paid huge deposits. The developers can pay the VAT out of the interest,” a buyer from Powai said. Maharashtra Societies Welfare Association chairman Ramesh Prabhu, too, said buyers, especially those who had not yettaken possession of their properties, would now haveto pay hightaxes.

      Developers, however, stuck to their stand. Ashok Mohanani, CMD of Ekta World, said, “The fault lies with the three complicated schemes to compute VAT drawn up by the sales tax department,whichhaveincreasedtheliability toover 5%. Contrary to the department’s claim,they are notoffering any tax benefits to any of the schemes. We have to pay double taxes for the same goods the value of which has increasedover a periodof time.” ADDING VALUE TO PROPERTY 

     The VAT is applicable only on an under-construction property

      Your tax liability varies between .5% and 3% depending on several factors such as the cost of the property and the value of the land on which it is built

     You will have to pay an interest of 15% on your tax component for every year of delay in registering your property. For example, if your tax component was Rs 1 lakh and you bought the property in 2009 but registered it in 2010, then you will have to pay Rs 1.15 lakh (15% interest on Rs 1 lakh for one year)

     The sales tax department may decide to waive the penalty for delayed payment; discussions are on

     There may be a small variation in the tax component because of differences in factors such as construction cost, which has been increasing steadily; this will increase the tax if you bought the property, for example, in ’08 instead of ’06

    LEGAL TUSSLE

      2006: Maharashtra government amends Value Added Tax Act, 2002 and levies VAT on the sale of immovable properties by developers

     2007: Maharashtra Chamber of Housing Industry (MCHI) and Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Association of India (Credai) challenge the government’s decision in the Bombay high court

      2007: Court passes interim order that developers should submit to sales tax department details like number of flats, amounts received, goods purchased from “dealers” registered or unregistered and amounts of VAT paid on such purchases

     2009: Maharashtra government issues notification for computing VAT, the value of which is based on ready reckoner rates 2010: Government introduces composition scheme of VAT at 1% of agreement value

    2012: Bombay high court dismisses MCHI’s petition

    2012: MCHI challenges constitutional validity of the government to levy VAT. Their contention is that the state legislature has no power and erred in terming the sale of immovable property as work contract under the provisions of Sale of Goods Act, 1930 of the Constitution

     Aug 28, ’12: Supreme Court to hear special leave petition

Garbage Collection : Delhi can learn from Chennai


NEW PLAN

From September, a knock at your door for garbage

Christin Mathew Philip TNN

Chennai:Get ready to expect your bell to ring around 6.30 every morning starting September. Residents of five zones in the city will get their wake-up call from conservancy workers.

      This is part of the city corporation’s plan to implement door-to-door garbage collection in five zones from the second week of September.
It is learnt that this decision comes after severe criticism from the public about poor garbage clearance and the blue group bins installed by the civic body. The first phase covers five zones in the old limits of the corporation, and will be later be implemented in the extended areas of the corporation.

     Mayor Saidai S Duraisamy said the zones are Tondiarpet, Royapuram, Thiru-Vi-Ka-Nagar, Ambattur and Anna Nagar. “We successfully conducted door-to-door garbage collection as a pilot project in ward 141 in T-Nagar. So we are planning to do this in five zones” said Duraisamy. He also said the civic body will also ask private firm, Ramky Enviro, managing Adayar, Teynampet and Kodambakkam, to begin door-to-door collection of garbage.

    The mayor also said that the criticism of group bins is baseless. “These bins will be effectively used for the doorto-door garbage collection,” he said. The idea is to remove garbage from the city completely with a better mechanism. So we are planning to collect garbage from households without any overflowing garbage bins in the city. When there is no piling up of garbage, then there will be a relief from mosquitoes, house flies and stray dogs” he said.

    Residents too have endorsed the move. “This is a good initiative by the civic body. But the civic officials should provide special bins for marriage halls, hotels and apartments. For instance, people staying on the top floors could not come with garbage to the collector,” said says R Govindaraj, joint general secretary, NGO, Exnora International

      A senior corporation official said: “The conservancy workers in these five zones will come and collect garbage in tricycles or other compact vehicles by 6.30am every day. They will dump the collected waste in the group bins that have been placed in various localities. By 10.30am, the compactors will come and take the waste materials from the group bins to Perungudi or Kodungaiyur”

     Corporation officials also have plans to distribute pamphlets on this. “We will distribute pamphlets containing the contact numbers of responsible civic officials and timings of the collection to the public. So they could also be ready for the new plan” said an official.
Meanwhile, the civic body had received several complaints from the public requesting to relocate the group garbage bins from their locality. Officials said that this will improve the garbage collection method.

      “Earlier, collected garbage materials were taken to the transfer stations only after 24 hours. But after the new system, collected garbage will be transported to the dumpyards” said an official.

KARNATAKA: Bangaluru AND Mangaluru: Women TARGETTED


We don’t want women engineers: corporators

       Bangalore: Where do working women leave their babies when they go to work? Some BBMP women officials carry their toddlers to their work place and that puts avoidable pressure.
Koramangala corporator BN Kokila has a problem with two women.

      In the council meeting on Tuesday, Kokila asked the mayor to change two women BBMP officials in her ward. “Both the junior health officer and senior health officer in my ward are women and they have little toddlers. They carry their children to the office and are hardly able to go around the ward unlike men who go around the the ward on their two-wheelers. Please transfer male officers to my ward,” she pleaded.

      When corporators laughed at her disparaging comments about women, Kokila angrily said, “It’s not a matter to be laughed at. I’m concerned about my ward,” she replied.
N Shantha Kumari, Moodala Palya corporator, also raised the same issue.

      “The lady health inspector in my ward recently delivered a baby. How can she go around the ward with her baby and check the garbage heaps? The mayor and commissioner must appoint a male official in my ward,” she said. Most environment engineers are young women, and they’re hardly able to get work done from solid waste management contractors, said Anil Kumar S, VV Puram corporator.

     OFFICER BEATEN UP

     Noor Jahan, corporator from Kushal Nagar, said the health officer in her ward was beaten up by the public for rising dengue cases. “If my ward is further neglected, we won’t be able to survive there,” she said.
Protest over BMTF

     BBMP engineers have taken exception to Bangalore Metropolitan Task Force (BMTF) police’s action against them, following complaints from people. They staged a protest at the BBMP headquarters on Tuesday morning. “Over 25 engineers are facing criminal cases filed by BMTF and 150 engineers have been slapped notices.

      We report to the commissioner and not to the BMTF. BMTF is misusing its powers,” said an officer-bearer of the BBMP employees’ association. The protest was called off after BBMP commissioner MK Shankarlinge Gowda assured the engineers that he would look into the issue.

MANGALURU

Gang could get away lightly

      Bangalore: The government is either yet to realize the gravity of the situation sparked by the Mangalore moral policemen or it’s dealing with it lightly to keep its hardliners happy. Whatever the reason, CM Jagadish Shettar and his men appear to have missed the outrage.

      Though there was a clamour in both Houses of legislature to book the mauraders under the Anti-Goonda Act, police invoked provisions of Indian Penal Code pertaining to dacoity, trespass and attempt to outrage the modesty of a woman. Chief minister Jagadish Shettar admitted that one of the victims was robbed of a gold chain and Rs 10,000.

     Legal experts say: “At most, these perpetrators may cool their heels in jail for next 2-3 months and walk out free on bail.”

     Shettar said he has given directions to the home department to initiate stern action against those responsible for the attack. Ashoka, replying to the issue, on Monday said: “Police booked cases of assault, molestation and dacoity that are serious in nature. What else do you expect us to do?”

    JD(S) leader M C Nanaiah expressed displeasure about the passive response of legislators from Dakshina Kannada district.

     He sought to know what they’d done to help the victims and to ensure tough action was taken against the accused.

ANDHER NAGARI : INDIA BLACKED OUT -2


30% power lost to theft, politics

Reforms Suffer At The Hands Of Ineffecient Distribution Networks

TIMES NEWS NETWORK

New Delhi: More than 30% of the power produced in the country is lost to theft and inefficiencies in the state distribution networks as politics prevents speedy implementation of steps needed to stop the slippage.

     Now, the country has 205 gigawatt of generation capacity. At 30%, it works out to around 60,000 MW or nearly the same load that the northern, eastern and the northeastern grids were carrying when they tripped at 1pm on Tuesday.

      So if the slippage is even halved, there would be enough power to light up Delhi for a week. Indeed, distribution is the weakest link in India’s power story, with a loss figure that stood at 38.86% in 2000-01. It was then called T&D (transmission and distribution loss).

     Since it was not able to capture all the losses in the network, the concept of AT&C (Aggregate Technical and Commercial) loss was introduced. It was supposed to have captured technical as well as commercial losses in the network and reflect a true picture of the total losses in the system.

    But ironically, massive modernization has brought down the technical loss in inter-state and inter-region transmission networks, operated by Central utility Power-Grid Corporation, to a little over 1%. This is the global standard. But states continue to lag, with several still reporting double-digit loss rates —some notching 30% even a decade after the Centre launched Accelerated Power Development & Reform Programme in 2001 for reducing AT&C losses.

      The idea was to reduce the losses to below 15% in five years in urban and high-density areas. But the commercial loss of the state utilities has only reduced from Rs 29,331 crore to Rs 19,546 crore. As percentage of turnover, however, it has reduced from 33% in 2000-01 to 16.6% in 2005-06.
On the surface, it is because of inadequate investments over the years for improvement, unplanned extensions of distribution lines, overloading and lack of adequate reactive power support. But scratch the surface, and the real culprit turns out to be politics.

     In an era of coalition politics and fragmented polity, parties are loathe to administering strong medicines for fear of upsetting their perceived vote banks.

ANDHER NAGARI: INDIA BLACKS OUT


POWERLESS & CLUELESS

       Over Half Of India’s Population Reels Under World’s Biggest-Ever Blackout,

       Minister Gets Promotion

Sanjay Dutta TNN

North, East & Northeast Grids All Trip

      New Delhi: It was a Terrible Tuesday that 684 million Indians are not going to forget in a hurry. In the world’s biggest blackout that affected one-tenth of the global population, 21 states and Union Territories went on the blink after threearterial power lines collapsed at 1pm.
The northern, eastern and northeastern regions suffered the outage when their respective grids collapsed in quick succession with devastating effect. The blackout disrupted life, rail and air services as well as industrial production across sectors.

      Even as the country was reeling under the outage, power minister Sushilkumar Shinde was moved out to the home ministry, and Veerappa Moily given the additional charge of power — a move that hardly indicated seriousness on the government’s part in dealing with the crisis.
Some 300 miners were trapped in coal mines. Two hundred miners were evacuated from mines in Bengal while another 65 were rescued from Dhanbad in Jharkhand. The miners had gone in for the first shift and got stuck when the grid collapsed. More than 300 trains were affected. Many others may be cancelled.

 WAYS TO FIX THE MESS

1 Price power properly so that state utilities have money to buy power

2 Check theft and account for every unit of electricity produced. Cut out free power 3 Get regulators with teeth. Currently, most are ineffective retired IAS officers

4 Invest in building new power plants, give them remunerative tariff, revamp existing plants

5 Plan for the future – for 10-20 years, not for 5 years

TIMES VIEW Moving Sushilkumar Shinde out of the power ministry now is like changing the captain of the Titanic when it’s reeling after hitting a giant iceberg. The country is in the midst of an unprecedented power crisis.

For two days in a row, the grid has collapsed. This doesn’t cover Shinde with any glory. Yet he’s promoted as home minister. Even if that’s ignored, what’s pertinent at this point of time is that Shinde is likely to have some clue about the power problem; a new minister – who will be holding additional charge of the portfolio – will possibly have none.

So, what does the change indicate? The irrelevance of ministers? Never mind who’s in charge, the net result is the same?

Editorial from TOI
India, Interrupted
To prevent recurrent blackouts, impose grid discipline

      British journalist Mark Tully once wrote a book called No Full Stops in India. He may have reckoned without this week, when northern as well as eastern India were brought to a grinding halt by successive grid failures.

    Power was affected in 20 states in all. That meant, in effect, that for more than   the country essential services such as hospitals, trains and Metros stopped functioning while traffic lights went on the blink. That it happened not once, but twice shows that it cannot be dismissed as a one-off incident.

     Lack of power holds back India’s industrial take-off, and prevents it from making the kind of strides in reducing poverty that China or East Asia have. In addition, cataclysmic failures due to a weak distribution system throw ordinary life out of gear. Unless we can summon up the political will to make systemic changes, this is going to happen again. The current collapse has been brought about by grid indiscipline, with states like UP, Haryana and Punjab overdrawing power.
It’s surely unhealthy that due to excesses of a few states, vast swathes of the country should go dark. But that’s incentivised by a system which imposes light penalties on states that overdraw. Not only should heavier penalties be charged to such states, regional load dispatch centres should be empowered to disconnect them from the grid, if that’s what’s needed to prevent grid failure.

     The circumstances of disconnection, which can be overseen by an independent regulator, should be precisely defined and rigidly adhered to, in order to insulate the process from political pressure.

    In addition, much can be done to boost India’s power capacity. Throw open the generation, transmission and distribution of power to more competition, which introduces efficiency. Often insufficient coal supply for thermal power plants is the problem. Coal India’s monopoly over mining coal needs to be broken, which will bring efficiency in the production of coal as well.

     Power theft, which receives political patronage but disincentivises the huge investments needed by the power sector, must be curbed. Can a national consensus be created on these issues, or do we require more grid collapses for that to happen?