Meghalaya High Court: While hearing a plea against the rampant power cuts and arbitrary load-shedding resorted to by the State of Meghalaya, the Division Bench of Sanjib Banerjee and W. Diengdoh, JJ., said that it is the State’s responsibility to ensure that there is adequate availability of electricity as per demand and plans should be in place to meet the increased future demands.
The Chairman of the Meghalaya Energy Corporation Limited (‘MeECL’) had stated that the monthly demand of power is to the extent of 200 million units and the availability is only 88 million units. It was also mentioned that such shortfall is because of a power plant in Tripura being shut down for technical reasons and the State has found no alternative source for power.
The Court said that ‘electricity is no longer a luxury’, it is the responsibility of the State to ensure that there is adequate availability of electricity as per demand and plans should be in place to meet the increased future demands. The Court also said that indeed, it is also open for the State to buy power from the open grid and enter into arrangements with power companies, several of whom operate in the North-East, to ensure that adequate electricity is available to the citizens, subject to the cost therefor being met by the citizens.
The Court also directed the State and the MeECL to file independent affidavits indicating the immediate, the short-term and the long-term measures and projections of demand and plan of action during accidental shutdown of any power plant and alternative sources that may be available. The affidavits should also indicate the equitable distribution of load-shedding hours and the alternative arrangements made for essential services like hospitals, airports and key installations.
[Flaming B. Marak v. State of Meghalaya, 2023 SCC OnLine Megh 219, Order Dated: 05-05-2023]