The second division level workshop was Jointly organised by CUTS-FES at Abu Road, Sirohi district, Jodhpur Division. The venue of the workshop was the Rajasthan Industrial & Investment Corporation (RIICO) guesthouse.
A total of 185 people participated in the programme, of which 35% of them constituted women. This is a major achievement, since Sirohi district is predominantly a tribal district with the tribes of Bheels and Gharsias being in majority.
The broad category of participants were farmers, rural domestic consumers, members of the Panchayati Raj Institution, engineers and linesmen from the local power distribution company, namely, Jodhpur Electricity Distribution Company Limited, representatives from the Chamber of Commerce & Industry, some representatives from industrial houses based in Abu Road and local district administration personnel.
The following are some of the noteworthy participants of the workshop.
Shri Manohar Kant , Divisional Commissioner Jodhpur Division;
Shri Giriraj Singh, District Collector Sirohi;
Shri L.N. Mantri, Sub District Magistrate Abu Road;
Shri H. D. Charan, Chairman & Managing Director Jodhpur Vidhyut Vitaran Nigam Limited;
Shri S.C.Jain, Superintendent Engineer, Pali circle;
The basic objective of organising the workshop was to bring all the stakeholders on a common platform to discuss the issues involved and promoting the idea of involving the consumers in power sector reforms.
From Left to Right S. Krishnaswamy Assistant Director CUTS, Giriraj Singh District Collector Sirohi, Manohar Kant Divisional Commissioner Jodhpur, H.D. Charan Chairman & Managing Director JVVNL, L.N. Mantri Sub District Magistrate Mount Abu, S.C. Jain Superintendent Engineer Pali Circle, Kamala Panjwani Social Activist, Vinayak R. Pandey Programme Officer CUTS
The workshop had two main sessions, the first session was addressed by the Jodhpur Divisional Commissioner, the collector of Sirohi District and the Managing Director of Jodhpur Vidhyut Vitaran Nigam Limited, the electricity distribution company for the region. They outlined the programmes of the government and the distribution company to improve the power situation in the country. They also highlighted on the role to be played by the consumers in trying to mitigate the dismal power scenario in the region. In their respective address, each of them also agreed that the power scenario in the district of Sirohi was one of the worst ever in the state of Rajasthan and lauded CUTS and FES for having selected to work in the district of Sirohi vis-à-vispower sector. They promised to support CUTS & FES in their venture in what ever possible way they could not only in personal capacity but also in official capacity.
They also appreciated the view point of CUTS that a lot of problems of consumers could be solved with their active participation in the reform process and in actually taking up community programmes.
The second session was an open house, where the participants expressed their views on the current power scenario and also came up with some solutions as to how the situation could be improved. The open house was lively with healthy debates between the masses and the members of the Panchayati Raj Institutions on one side and the Managing Director of the Jodhpur Distribution Company. The District Collector who was also present for a major part of this session contributed his views on this issue.
Point of discussion
The common problems which was aired were
- Lack of adequate supply of power – maximum of 2-3 hours day, with bulk of the supply being night times
- Further, the timings of supply was not known, there is no uniformity in the supply of power in terms of timings
- Erratic supply in terms of voltage, sometimes even a single bulb does not glow
- Long wait for new connection, leading people to resort to thefts, waiting period for connections was sometimes as much as 10-15 years.
- Poor maintenance and indifferent attitude of the staff
- Sometimes a repair of a simple fuse takes as much as 2-3 days.
- Faulty billing system
- Discriminatory practices followed by the utility staff – more power to the rich, who also resort to thieving and less power to the farmer and domestic rural consumers – this is possible through line adjustments.
- The representatives of Chambers of Commerce and Industry aired the problems of the urban and industrial belt which was to do with policies and billing systems.
- They also expressed their concern about the large power cuts.
Positive indications from consumers
- People are willing to pay if given the connectivity and adequate amount of power with quality
- Given the fact that this is entirely tribal belt and earlier no effort has been done to moblise the community, people were very enthusiastic about discussing their problems and participate in the system.
- People are very much interested to receive the information which can help them to resolve their problems.
- In remote tribal areas people are very much interested about the uses of solar lighting system since topographical conditions do not permit electrification of the area immediately.
- The industrial consumers expressed that the distribution company could promote solar systems and that the industries were willing to purchase and install such equipments, if some subsidy and good after sales service facilities were provided for.
Some positive indications from utility providers
- After having open discussions with stakeholders utility providers agreed in principle to initiate for involving the consumers and the local community in the system and to delegate in phased manner day-to-day operations at the village level.
- Better services can be provided if at the village level responsibility of regular maintenance work, change of meters, repairing faults in transmission lines etc can be carried out by a committee of local people comprise community leaders, trade technicians (I.T.I), diploma engineers , retired electricity employees. This will not only ensure revenue earning for the village people but also ensure better power supply as Vidhut Nigam is ready to pay on contract basis for the same.
- There would be a grievance handling camps at each power station on 10th of each month where consumers` problems would be sorted out at spot.
Though a working group session was not organised, the participants were given the broad outlines of the project and asked to give their views on them. They were also asked to list out the likely programmes which could be organised under the project, which in their felling would be beneficial.
Case studies of successful participation of community in power generation through bio-mass was distributedto maker the participants comprehend the concept of community participation and to identify themselves that how they can solve their problems through collective participation.
Outcome of these discussions
The out come of the of the discussions can be categorised in three broad categories which are; Immediate, Short term and Long term goals.
- Promoting the idea of forming a loose committee at the initial stage comprising of villagers – farmers, Members of Panchayati Raj Institutions, Community leaders, Unemployed technically trained youths from local places, Local representative of Power Distribution Company and some interested rural domestic consumers.
- CUTS & FES would organise chaupal bhaitaks at village level for promoting the idea of forming of such groups,– these chaupal bhaitaks would primarily be in the form of `capacity building meetings’ where awareness would be generated on key issues related to power, alternate energy sources, people’s participation in the activities of the Regulatory Commission, monitoring, billing, metering, etc.
- Since the topographical and socio-economic conditions are entirely odd, uses of solar energy would be promoted and reader friendly reading material would be published and distributed extensively which can cover issues like providing information about various Govt. schemes for promoting uses of non-conventional and renewal energy sources.
- Information on `conditions of supply’, rules for new connections, current power scenario etc would be disseminated to the people through various mediums – print, audio visual programmes, posters, banners etc. This would help in mobilising the masses to participate in improving the system.
At the state level, CUTS & FES would document the reactions of the people and present a case to the policy makers in order to sensitise them.
Medium Term Goal
Achieving short term activities would in turn facilitate in achieving medium term objective :-
Encouraging and making aware people about uses of energy efficient appliances. It was highlighted that even switching off a 40 Watts bulb in houses in Rajasthan can save 250 Mw of power.
Promoting uses of non-conventional and renewal energy sources would be supported with technical training camps and live demonstration and similar kind of inputs would be provided by CUTS & FES.
People would be encouraged to come forward and monitor the power distribution and work towards preventing power theft and to see whether utility providers are doing their job properly.
To encourage people for replicate such initiative in other villages.
Long Term Goals
Model village creation
Participants at the occasion of 2nd Division Level Workshop on “Involvemnet of Consumers in Power Sector Reforms in Rajasthan ”organized by CUTS-FES at Abu Road on 20th November 2001
Venue: The Rajasthan Industrial & Investment Corporation (RIICO) Guesthouse, Abu Road, Rajasthan
Ph: 91.1472.241 472,
Fax: 91.1472.240 072
Date: November 20th, 2001
Time: 11.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m
Organisers: Consumer Unity & Trust Society and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (India)
Invitees: Divisional and district administration officials, Utility providers, Panchayati Raj Representatives, Consumers from the Grass root Farmers, Consumer rights activists, NGOs and Members of Legislative Assembly of the region
Contact: Srinivas Krishnaswamy / Vinayak Ratna Pandey