Ukhrul, Feb 11:
In a fast-paced life electricity power has become a daily essential item in our day-to-day life yet in Ukhrul the power supply was so erratic that the denizens began to ask Manipur State Power Distribution Company Limited (MSPDCL) authority for its lackadaisical attitudes and prolonged negligence.
Even though MSPDCL Pvt. Ltd head office, Imphal recently issued a notification to all its divisions including hill districts to intensify efforts for curbing power theft, the MSPDCL Ukhrul division is facing a major hurdle in implementing the same, due to a chronic shortage of manpower.
According to a highly-placed source within the division, the shortage of requisite manpower has greatly hindered the division’s efficiency in detecting and tackling power theft in its jurisdiction, apart from executing normal duties.
It is learned that despite several attempts to address the manpower crisis, the division continues to struggle with the same issue.
The MSPDCL Ukhrul division, which is responsible for the distribution of electricity in most parts of Ukhrul district, has been facing this challenge for the last many years.
In a notification on February 7, the MSPDCL directed all its hill divisions to carry out intensive raids against power theft in their respective jurisdictions, starting from the same day.
However, the staff shortage in the division has severely limited their ability to carry out these operations effectively.
I see is pertinent to mention that the recruitment of 2019 has yet to be announced to date despite the head office having full knowledge of staff shortage in Ukhrul division.
Despite a small team of employees currently the division is struggling to cover its entire jurisdiction and keep a check on power theft, the source said, adding that the staff shortage has even resulted in a backlog of consumer complaints and a delay in addressing various technical issues in normal power distribution.
Many illegal connections and instances of meter tampering go undetected, causing losses to the company and hindering its efforts towards providing uninterrupted electricity to the public, it said.
The source further revealed that the shortage of manpower in the division has been attributed to various reasons, such as retirement, inadequate or delayed recruitment, non-replacement, and frequent transfers of staff.
As such, the existing employees are overburdened with work, which has affected their productivity and efficiency, it added.
According to the source, all 104 assistant linemen and 34 linemen positions have not been filled, and the lone assistant lineman has been assigned to Imphal since last year; Only four out of the five sanctioned head linemen positions are occupied.
On the other hand, the 14 sanctioned positions for Section Officer Grade I are currently without any staff, and only one out of four Section Officer Grade-II positions is filled.
The source also confided that out of the nine sanctioned engine operator positions, only two are currently being utilised.
Additionally, there are currently no meter readers employed, with all four sanctioned positions remaining vacant.
Due to the high number of vacant positions, only a small number of contract workers are handling the responsibilities, which included eight assistant meter readers, three assistant linemen, and two drivers, it said.
The source further revealed that the division currently has around 17,000 electricity consumers approximately of which 15,000 are pre-paid users.
This included the entire Ukhrul district headquarters, the northern region of Ukhrul up to Jessami, and the western region (excluding Teinem, Phalee, Ringui, and Lamlang villages, which are covered by Litan substation).
Despite the division’s monthly target of collecting around Rs 80 lakh, it has only been able to collect a maximum of Rs.36- 40 lakh, the source added.