Austerity is meant for people, not leaders

via - PNS | Kochi published on January 21, 2009

when Power Minister AK Balan and the State Power Department are putting
the people and the industrial sector of Kerala into hardships with
their instructions to bring down power consumption and imposition of
surcharges for every unit consumed in excess of the permitted limit,
the consumption and power bills of the Ministers and top officials are

A rough look at the Ministers’ and officials’ power
bills would evoke public interest when they are the people who form
policies against even normal consumption of electricity. The monthly
power bills for Cliff House, the official residence of Chief Minister
VS Achuthanandan come to around Rs 50,000. The official residence of
the State Electricity Secretary is not in use but the consumption there
has been found to be 500 units a month.

This over-consumption
of power in times of shortage is taking place when the people are not
allowed to use electricity above a level, when superstars appearing in
ad films sponsored by the Power Department are asking people to avoid
even normal consumption of power and the Power Minister is offering as
gift CFL lamps to those who bring down power consumption.

Ministers and top officials are yet to implement the power management
systems in their homes while they have successfully implemented it even
in primary schools and hospitals.

The Power Department had
since 2007 spent more than Rs 150 lakh on awareness campaigns on the
need for controlling power consumption.

According to the
information provided to Human Rights Defence forum general secretary DB
Binu under the Right to Information Act, the bill for power consumption
at the official residence of Local Administration Minister Paloli
Muhammad Kutty for the month of July 2008 alone was Rs 15,105.

per-month bill for power consumption at Education and Cultural Affairs
Minister MA baby’s house which had stood at Rs 9,854, grew to Rs 12,390
for one month after the implementation of controls on consumption.

Minister G Sudhakaran is known for his austerity in all matters, and
this was true in his power consumption as well as he had consumed power
worth Rs 465 only in October last. But this grew to Rs 8,218 in

Transports Minister Mons Joseph had paid Rs 10,952 for
power consumption at Manomhan House, one of his houses, in May last,
while the power bill for the use at his Gwalior House was Rs 8,197. KP
Rajendran, perhaps, was one of the leaders who brought down consumption
by reducing use from 1142 units in January 2008 to a mere 938 units in

Forests Minister Benoy Viswam of the CPI paid Rs
7,220 in January 2008 and his power bill in August was Rs 7,697. Water
Resources Minister NK Premachandran of the RSP paid Rs 10,330 in
January last while his bill went up to Rs 11,251 in July last.

Power Minister AK Balan’s proved that his talks about the need of
bringing down power consumption were not meant for him but only for
others. He had paid Rs 8,917 for power in January 2008. This rose to Rs
11,135 in July and to Rs 9,167 in October.

A top official in
the State Power Department said, “Balan has been asking people to start
using CFL lamps to cut short power consumption. He has also been
offering CFL lamps as gifts to those who bring down consumption. I
wonder what kind of gift he would give to himself for being such a
great model for the people!”

All Ministers have paid their power bills promptly without making any arrears.

Binu said the figures of power consumption at the residence of the KSEB chairman had not been provided him.

He said he would approach the Information Commission on this again.

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