India’s political and financial capitals have seen street protests against electricity woes.
Angry citizens in New Delhi attacked the offices of power supplier BSES Ltd on Sunday after suffering long power cuts despite the searing heat. Mumbai saw its own violent protests earlier in the week as political parties tried to take advantage of consumer dissatisfaction over a sharp rise in monthly charges by Reliance Energy Ltd.
These two episodes show how the country’s power sector continues to be an unholy mess. It would not be incorrect to say that this sector has been the hardest to reform since 1991. The government does not have the money to set up adequate capacity to power a growing economy. Private investors continue to be put off by red tape and bankrupt state electricity boards. Consumers will just not accept higher tariffs. And the business community is often left to accommodate shortfalls itself—with its own generators.
Meanwhile, India gropes and swelters in the dark.