Wednesday, August 03, 2005
Relying on Reliance
Reliance Energy (RE) is getting a lot of flak for not restoring power to some parts of Mumbai, a soft target for politicians who wish to deflect attention from their own shortcomings. As I'd written in this post on Cloudburst Mumbai, I find Anil Ambani's explanation quite reasonable: in areas that are still flooded, RE is giving precedence to human life over electricity, as indeed it should. Well, Gaurav Sabnis covers all the bases in a lusty defence of Reliance, and points out:
If the floods had happened 5 years back, when BSES was a state-owned company, no politician would have dared talk of arrests. But now that it is a private company, they casually throw around ideas of placing the Reliance Energy [officials] behind bars.Gaurav ends by writing that he would "love to see arrested the politicians of both [the Shiv] Sena and [the] Congress, who did not bother to add a single megawatt of capacity in Maharashtra in over a decade and plunged the state into a sure-fire crisis." Well, leave alone arrest them, I'd just love to see them voted out of power and a new class of politicians emerge. Pipe dreams.
A lot of consumers and politicians have asked why Tata Power did not face any such problems. Firstly, Tata Power mainly supplies energy in South Mumbai, where the rains were 15 times milder. Secondly, Tata Power has always been a private company. They set up their own infrastructure, including transformers and lines. They thus made the infrastructure adhere to their standards, which would obviously be stricter than a government owned company.
However Reliance Energy inherited the infrastructure from BSES. They did not install these transformers in low-lying areas. The infrastructure was of a shoddy public sector level.