Rattan Singh Gill
It happens in India and surely in Jammu Kashmir that too with impunity. The Jammu Power Distribution Corporation with its magical-wand reproduced a new electricity bill for Rs. 13,781 in place of the earlier issued bill of over Rs Two Lakhs for the official residence of J&K–Ladakh BJP President Ravinder Raina. It was a live show at least covering the last scene of clearance of the electricity dues of Rs. 13781 as an ‘abiding citizen of this great country' without any flash-back on what happened in the sequence from the issuance of the higher bill to the meagre one.
JPDC recently woke up from deep slumber and perhaps after a ‘Booster' dose, dared disconnect the electricity supply lines of over a thousand consumers including a few ‘odd-ones-out' for what they said, the non-payment of huge arrears of electricity bills in the posh areas within Gandhi Nagar jurisdiction.
The daring act of JPDC, against a few VIPs like GN Azad, Ravinder Raina, MLA Langeh and others, obviously captured the news headlines in print and digital media alike giving the people a semblance of ‘rule of law without exception'.
Then came a slew of excuses from the affected VIPs or their aides, such as being out of station or lacking information, etcetera, etcetera, for public consumption. While Ghulam Nabi Azad's power connection was restored within hours without any known reason, the BJP stalwart Ravinder Raina stage-managed a drama at the PDC office with the back-stage support of the Power Development Corporation officials, who received the payment of Rs. 13,781 for the reproduced-revised bill against the earlier bill of over Rs Two lakhs for a photo shoot.
The media that was invited to the Executive Engineer's office – the venue of the stage-play for spreading an image-building message rather backfired when a journalist asked J&K BJP Party Chief Ravinder Raina how come the PDC with a sleight of hand turned the Rs. 2 lakh bill into just Rs. 13781 and why such courtesies are not available to the common people.
The video has gone viral, which is also available on the Facebook page of the Northlines, showed Raina blushing with embarrassment and found gathering his words and trying to attribute it to a Technical Error by the PDC Department, in the presence of PDC officials, which he said they have now rectified. He further said, “I do not have a single penny of liability against me from any department including the PDD”. A probe is needed indeed to find out if it was a computer snag or a manoeuvre to benefit a ruling party leader. In any case, action is needed to restore the public's confidence.
These technical glitches were more common in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir but even thereafter such instances often crop up in selective cases. In a recent case where a large Electricity bill of a commercial unit was first changed into the Domestic one by the department and then the beneficiary availed the benefits of the official ‘Amnesty Scheme'. The incident later surfaced on a complaint and the beneficiary has taken the matter to the court.
Why do these Technical Glitches in the Power department always favour the Powerful – a pertinent question?