Meghalaya High Court: In a public interest litigation petition filed against the rampant power cuts and arbitrary load-shedding resorted to by the State of Meghalaya, the Division Bench of Sanjib Banerjee, CJ., and W. Diengdoh, J., said that the 50-60 percent shortfall in supply of electricity was unacceptable in this day and age where both business and domestic life almost come to a standstill without the availability of electricity.
The State had filed a status report indicating the list of essential service providers which are exempted from load-shedding.
The Court said that when the PIL was filed, the State had taken a stand that because of the low pre-monsoon rains and low water level at Umiam lake, adequate generation of power was not possible. The Court also noted that the State had indicated that with the monsoon setting in and the water level at Umiam rising, much of the problem would be resolved, however the State had not presented the demand and supply figures, nor the measures adopted to augment the supply of electricity were detailed by the State in the said status report filed by the State.
The Court said that it was completely unacceptable that the quantum of deficit would be in excess of 50 percent. The Court also said that it was possible that because of low rainfall or other problems there was a shortfall for some period and a shortfall which may be not more than 10 percent of the daily demand, however, the shortfall in the State was more than 50 to 60 percent of the demand and such a situation was unacceptable in this day and age where both business and domestic life almost come to a standstill without the availability of electricity.
Thus, the Court directed the State to file a more comprehensive report indicating the larger picture across the State and providing details pertaining to every district. The State will also have to indicate the measures taken to obtain additional power from the national grid and other sources that are available to reduce the shortfall.
Further, the Court said that on a more long-term basis, the State must look at small capacity hydel or other forms of electricity generating projects, particularly since the State is endowed with heavy rainfall and enjoys a hilly terrain where small projects may be put up at low cost to cater to the needs of the immediate locality. The Court also said that a 10-year or a 20-year plan should be made out, considering the increased demand in future, to ensure that adequate steps are taken either to generate electricity or to purchase or obtain supply from other sources to ensure that, ideally, there was no gap between the demand and the supply of the electricity.
The matter was further listed for hearing on 25-07-2023.
[Flaming B. Marak v. State of Meghalaya, 2023 SCC OnLine Megh 346, Order Dated: 05-07-2023]
Advocates who appeared in this case :
For the Petitioner: Advocate P.T. Sangma;
For the Respondents: Additional Advocate General T. Yangi B, Additional Senior Government Advocate A.H. Kharwanlang, Government Advocate S. Laloo, Advocate A.S. Pandey.