Wednesday, January 12, 2005

slumming as an innovative approach to improving power supply in pune

Everyone in Pune has been unanimous in their acceptance of the Christmas gift from the civic adminstration for 2004 -- the new official load shedding schedule which throws you, your home and your business into powerless limbo for 15 hours a week. And it also gives you the chance to practise some real-life scheduling (so, there's no power at home this afternoon, which means I can't watch that Mithun movie. I could go and pay a visit to my dentist. But I'm not sure if he has power. Which means, I'll have to go in the evening. But that's the only time we can visit this family friend...). The civic administration could have earned some points by limiting the load shedding to more bearable hours -- when you lose power at your office in the afternoon, it puts paid to the rest of the day. And creating a market for UPSs and generators only serves to raise the already obscene levels of pollution in the city. To top this all, we are still not free from the random power cuts that occur (more often than not at extremely inconvenient moments).

Which brings us to the moment of revelation for me. Evening time. Past 7pm. We have already received our three-hour dose of the "good old days", when suddenly it's darkness. I step out onto the balcony. And lo and behold. The Rajiv Gandhi slum across the railway tracks is gleaming with power. That place has always enjoyed the kind of uninterrupted power that Bombay boasts about. And it seems to be so damn important, they now have a paved mini-road leading from the main road to the entrance of the establishment. And an archway too! Seeing the slum this time around gave me a super idea. Since slums have been known to enjoy this constant power and no red tape, why don't we just displace the slums and replace them (in a jiffy!) with an office base of equal square-foot area. Or even a residential place. That way the small businesses will enjoy the constant power and not have to worry about load shedding.

Of course, now that I think of it, if the slum enjoys this privilege by way of being itself, its privilege will travel with it to the new location leaving behind a residential area/small business in pitch dark gloom. Is there a way out? Or do we need super heroes wearing their underwear over tight pants to fly down with a solution?

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