Saturday, November 10, 2007
The far-east really has a rich cultural heritage. Much like our own. And from what I've seen and experienced, they are proud of it.
They are not "fanatical" about their religious heritage being "run aground" by western influence - and I wonder why is it that we here in India feel so "threatened" by western influences. The Thai, the Koreans and the Malaysians enjoy BOTH, without feeling any guilt - but here in India, we make (those who "adopt" western styles) guilty of "abandoning" their roots !! Why ??
Just thought I'd make this point here ....
By the way, on the "bijlee" front, we had some small successes - and I have only managed to keep updating the yahoo group at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/bijlee/ .. will also update the http://bijleepower.blogspot.com/ pages ..
Here's wishing all of you a very safe and peaceful Diwali and a successful and productive New Samvat Year !!
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
The fact that it is our 60th is no big deal - I really dislike it that people (and some sections of the media) have created this hype - that since it is our 60th so it is "special" - this is not a total score of a test match - that we're waiting to get to a higher number !
Each year is equally important.
What we should really be measuring is how high we climb on the really relevant numbers:
- Like the decrease in number of hungry, under-fed and malnutritioned children and people.
- Like the decrease in the rate of infant mortality.
- Like the decrease in the number of pending cases in the Supreme Court and all other Courts.
- Like a decrease in the number of pending cases with the State Information Commission (under thr RTI Act).
- Like a decrease in the number of MPs, MLAs, MLCs and Corporators, who are "full-time" politicians. (Let them prove themselves in various fields and then be elected/nominated).
- Like the increase in the rate of overall literacy.
- Like the increase in the per capita income of each District, measured separately.
- Like the increase in the year-on-yeargrowth rate of number of school-going and college-going students.
- Like the increase in the rate of working women, which will show that women empowerment is really working.
- Like the increase in the overall Social/Human Development and other related Indices.
I would like to see THOSE numbers being made more important than just the fact that we have hit 60 .. so what ? In ten years, we'll hit 70 .. then 80 .. and so on .. it's never going to stop ! .. or is it ? .. and which is the reason why some people think its a "big deal" that we've hit 60.
Once a nation gets Independence, its just going to keep going !!
And while we're celebrating this, let us ...
... resolve to continue to work relentlessly towards the betterment of our country.
... gain independence from the disharmonius forces that have tied us tangled in knots.
... free ourselves of the notion that an individual person is helpless.
When each one of us does this, I feel we will REALLY have a reason to celebrate an Independence Day!
Sunday, August 12, 2007
You will be shocked to know that MERC is so casual about consumer representatives.. and you were wondering why is the electricity tariff rate just going on zooming !
.. and the rapid fire took like ages to finish .. I didn't bother to find out who won .. like hell it matters ;)
.. and why am I even blogging about this ???
Saturday, June 30, 2007
Finally, the lights went out in Kandivili (East) at around 12.45 in the afternoon.
I guess I don't have to pay Reliability Charges any more .. so much for Anil Ambani spending Rs. 100 crores of MY money on his so-called Disaster Management!!
And no one is answering REL's complaint number 3030 3030 .. so that's another couple of 100 crores down the drain in setting up the Call centre ...
... the only Disiaster we have .... is REL as our electricity supplier ;)
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
I'm sure this must have done the rounds of the Internet, but I thought I'd put it down here as well, if nothing .. just for my own "Refresher Course" ... :)
The Power of ATTITUDE
1. DREAMS: A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step - Chinese Proverb.
2. PURPOSE: Your vision becomes clear when you look inside your heart.
3. PASSION: Belief fuels passion, and ... passion rarely fails - M. Anderson.
4. People are like sticks of dynamite. The power's on the inside ... but nothing happens until the fuse gets lit.
5. COURAGE: Courage does not always roar. Sometimes it is the quite voice at the end of the day, saying "I will try again tomorrow."
6. GOALS: Take a long view ... one day at a time.
7. STAY POSITIVE: You become what you think about - Earl Nightingale.
8. Attitudes truly are contagious. So ask yourself one question ... Is mine worth catching ?
9. SIMPLIFY: Things that matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least - Goethe.
10. LAUGHTER: Laughter is sunshine in any life- William Thackeray.
11. Laughter is your heart's way of telling your face to smile - D. Green.
12. EXPECT THE BEST: Its a funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it - W. Somerset Maugham.
13. KINDNESS: Its not the things you get, but the hearts you touch, that will determine your success in life.
14. SING YOUR SONG: A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song- Chinese proverb.
15. LOVE: Love doesn't make the world go round. Love is what makes the ride worthwhile - Franklin P. Jones.
16. RENEWAL: The will to win ... the will to achieve ... goes dry and arid without continuous renewal - Vince Lombardi Jr.
And, finally ..
In many ways, we're alike;
However, one LITTLE difference
Makes a BIG difference
The little difference is ...
A wonderful movie with the above text and pleasing visuals is available here: www.powerofattitudemovie.com
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
By the way, just WHO is a "FARMER"???? Where is FARMER defined ??
Certainly NOT in the Constitution of India ... !!
Surprised? Yup, the word "farmer" is not defined by our Constitution. Article 366, which deals with "Definitions" defines "Agricultural Income" but "Farmer" is not defined.
Which means, this is now open to interpretation by all and sundry - unless the High Court and/or Supreme Court have laid down some definitions (I'm not a lawyer, so I wouldn't know..)
However, here's an interesting Case study ...
When we got Independence, there were a number of landlords (Zamindars) who owned Agricultural land. Most of these had hired help ... (bonded?) labourers ... to till the land for them. In one stroke, the Government abolished the Zamindari system and made the actual tillers, owners of the land - and compensated the Zamindars (with Bonds, I think).
Thereafter, one such labourer now became the owner and then in turn, also hired some additional help. Over time, the labourer-owner became old and his children (who were educated, as he could afford to educate them) didn't want to do farm-activities any more. They moved to the city and took up other career options.
Eventually the old man passes away bequeathing his (legally-owned) farm land, to his children.
Stop the press...
- Are the children "Farmers" ?????
- Do they need a "Certificate" to prove that they are "Farmers" ?????
- Does Amitabh need a Certificate ? If yes, WHO is the Competent Authority to issue such a Certificate?
- Does Aamir need anything more than the fact that his father owns/owned Agricultural land???
- What is the status of our Politicians?
It seems the thumb rule being applied everywhere is that "if you owned farm land at any place in India.. you ARE a Farmer" ...
By this logic, we need to open the Pandora's Box and examine each and every Politician (and Administrative Officer) who has declared that they "own" farm land.
For those who were born much later (your's truly, included), India was a predominantly Agricultural country when we got Independence... so most of our fore-fathers, were "Farmers" anyway ...
I think this is political vendetta .. especially, in Amitabh's case. His obvious proximity to the (loud-mouth) Amar Singh and Jaya's obvious show of Respect (?) to Mulayam Singh (those who saw Koffee-with-Karan will know) has done him in.
Unfortunately, the politicians themselves and the IAS officers and other Babus involved have gotten away ... FIRs should be filed against these guys first, before anyone does that to Amitabh ... and the less said about Aamir's case, the better ...
Let all the Ministers who have made statements against these two, first prove that THEY are also "Farmers" - IF they own any "agricultural land" ... let them also "prove" how is it that they are being called Farmers ... when they themselves hardly ever till their land, nowadays ..
Well ... and that's how I feel ...
Sunday, June 03, 2007
1. There was Sophie Ellis Bextor's "Catch You" from her "Trip The Light Fantastic" Album. The lady seemed to have a major Madonna-in-her-hey-days hang up.
The same bright red (vermillion?), frilly, latin american-style dress, hair, gelled (oiled?), pulled back in a bun, Venice, Gondola, sepia tone shots, etc.
The clincher was the shot where she is sitting on a three-seater sofa with arms outstreched on the headrest ... reminiscent of what the Cicconne babe had done for Playboy (or was it Penthouse .. but does that matter?) .. except that she did it in the buff ;)
Verdict: Ho-hum !
Ha! Talk of a confused child..!! And oh, yes, there was the token, skimpily clad black girl in stillettos (and nothing much else) in the vid ..
Verdict: Lousy !
Incidentally, this song was chosen by this years' American Idol season, as the "going-away" number (the number they play in the background when one of the contestants is eliminated). Last season's song was "I've Had a Bad Day"...
Verdict: Beautiful !
Didn't wait to see further .. just shut the box after Daughtry ...
I also, managed to catch Avril Lavigne's "Girlfriend" (my daughter's fav song ... "Ooh Dad, I just love this video...").
So now you know what to expect from the vid ... there are the token shots of the present GF falling in the pool and making a mess of herself ... predictable stuff ..
Saturday, June 02, 2007
The news item does not clarify if CAS and/or IPTV media are also included.
A TRAI report puts the total number of cable & satellite viewers at 70 million and the article says that there are 3.2 million DTH subscribers - so only 4.5% of the viewers will be "entitled" .. (or should I say, "privileged") to watch adult content.
The Govt is going to "reward" this 4.5% for investing in DTH systems, by allowing them to view "adult" content ...
So, according to the Govt (or is it only TRAI?), 95.5% of the viewer population is NOT mature enough to handle adult content !
This smacks of a business deal, where the DTH players are going to use the excuse of a TRAI-approved plan for "promoting" their product.
They will make it look like the TRAI has done this only because access-control is easier through DTH .. but what about CAS and IPTV? These are also "controllable".
In any case, it is absolutely discriminatory to make such a move - any such decision should be inclusive.
I have written to TRAI asking for a clarification ... but who knows if they will reply!
Just thought that you all should know :)
Thursday, May 31, 2007
Oh well, call it the pre-monsoon showers or whatever .... as far as I'm concerned, just the aroma of wet mud is a real killer ... mmmmm ....
Anyway, the first rains had their first casualty.
The gusty winds just ripped off the print from a hoarding right outside my window !
I tried to capture the moment - just managed to grab a few seconds .. its uploaded here:
PS. Please forgive the (very, very bad) amateurish video grab.... this is my first attempt!
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
I couldn't believe it, when Miss Japan won.
I expected Miss USA to get into the Top Five on account of her splendid come"back" performance after falling ...
I also didn't expect Miss India in the Top Five - she looked like she was suffering from a major Shilpa Shetty hang-up .
I also expected Home Queen Miss Mexico in the Final Ten ....
But what's it with the chinks .. Miss Korea, Miss Thailand, Miss Japan ...
I'm surprised Miss Vietnam didn't get shortlisted (or is Uncle Sam still smarting ...)
Then I realised that a majority of the Judges were also of the same "genre" .. so no surprises there !
Well now the American Fashion companies will make a good amount of money in the Far East.
This is all BIG BUSINESS .. The Fashion companies (incl Cosmetics, Accessories, etc.) give an "ego-boost" to certain countries and have all of the country going crazy buying stuff .. and then they move to another country/region.
It first started with the Latinos - Brazil, Venezuela, etc. .. then it moved to India .. and now its the Far-East ... so no reason for us desis to feel lousy .. it just business ....!
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Hat's off Mr. Balkrishnan! Incidentally, he's the creative director at Lowe..
Great movie, brilliantly written characters (wonderfully played by Amitabh, Tabu, Paresh Rawal and Zohra Sehgal .... and the little girl).
What I really liked about the movie (apart from zero songs) is that it is a love-story about two mature individuals sans all the pretensions of a hindi-movie typecast love struck romantic.
It is not just "infatuation" - but the "coming of age" of Amitabh as a man-in-love (when he says .. main ab jawan ho gaya hoon .. to Paresh Rawal) .
Tabu's role is underplayed .. she seems to have great depth .. and her tongue-in-cheek humour was done very well...
There were many high-points .. the "colgate" guy .. the british waiter's pronounciation trouble .. Zohra Sehgal's obsession with gym/hunks .. Paresh Rawal's cricket/Gandhi mania ...
Overall, it was a wonderfully enjoyable evening - I was a little apprehensive about seeing the movie with my kids .. but was surprised at the way they understood and enjoyed the film .. a mark of a great story-teller .. to tell the story in such a way that needs no further interpretation.
"Paisa vasool" .. to sound cliched !
PS. If I had to name just one part that I would've liked to change .. it would be Amitabh crying bitterly saying "I want sexxxyyy.." .. somehow I felt it didn't go well with the character... just for the use of the word "sexy" ..and what it connotes (spelling?) nowadays .. that's all .. for no other reason ..
Friday, May 25, 2007
First Rahul Gandhi blamed the party (for the debacle in UP) and now Narayan Rane blames the leadership (for losing one seat in the Ramtek Lok Sabha by-polls).
I would be surprised if any of the politicians really figure out why they lost!
Great take on the situation prevailing across the world .. things done in the name of religion ..
I will NOT reproduce the article here but here's the link:
Loved God's sign off...
Thanks, Amit (wherever you are !)
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Am three-quarters of the way reading this book (by Alvin Toffler) ... and am wondering why I never read it in College.. Hmm ...
Anyway, suddenly there's a method to all the madness .. Ha !
I think this should be made compulsory reading in the final year of any kind of graduation.
There's still time guys .. go get a copy ... and proactively handle "Future Shock" ...
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
There is a new blogspot for bijlee (electricity) issues here at http://bijleepower.blogspot.com
It was actually getting a bit much to have just the bijlee posts at my personal blog, so ...
The ranting will still continue .. but its just that it will be a lot more informal here .. than on the bijleepower site ;)
Sunday, April 15, 2007
1. Tata generates 1777 MW
2. REL generates 500 MW.
3. REL/BEST get nearly all of their energy requirement from Tata/REL genration only. Total is 2,277 MW (1777 + 500).
4. Vitaran is supposedly supplying 150 MW to Mulund/Bhandup/etc.
5. Hence, Mumbai's total demand-supply is 2,427 MW (2277 + 150).
6. Last summer (April-June 2006) there was no "load shedding" in REL/BEST area.
7. REL serves 25 Lakh consumers in Mumbai.
8. BEST serves 10 Lakh consumers in Mumbai.
9. Tata serves 24,000 consumers in Mumbai.
Now, consider this also...
1. REL projects a 5% increase in energy consumption (in its own MYT petition).
2. BEST projects a less than 5% increase in energy consumption (in its own MYT petition).
3. MERC/REL says Mumbai's requirement has gone to 2,700 MW, an increase of 273 MW, or 11% !
Sounds illogical, right?
If the 2 major suppliers to the city are saying that their energy consumption is going up only 5%, then how come the GAP has grown to 11%??
Assuming that 5% (120 MW) is the normal growth year-on-year, where is the need for the extra 153 MW coming from??
No points for guessing...
This GAP is requirement of REL for constructing and operating its own Metro Rail project.
REL's Metro Rail gets under way this year, partial completion estimated in 2-3 years (i.e. near about 2009-2010).
We were right, since REL is NOT separating its accounts, we cannot figure out what's going on!!
Incidentally, REL's own MYT Petition (upto March 31, 2010) does not show any income from electricity charges receivable from Metro Rail project.
So they're going to be using electricity that YOU and I and the rest of Mumbai city will be paying for through our hard-earned money !!
That's the REAL shortage ... think about it ...anyone has another explanation ??
Well ... and that's how I feel ...
Saturday, April 14, 2007
None of this was brought to the Public's notice. Nothing was discussed in the Public Hearings (I attended all 4 public hearings: Vitaran, TPC, REL, BEST).
Everyday we read in the newspapers, how these "poor, hapless" electricity companies may have to purchase electricity at much higher rates (Rs. 7, Rs. 8 per unit, etc.) in order to "save" Mumbai from Load shedding.
Please correct me if I'm wrong here ...
As I understand it, MERC can fix the tariff - and that too, ONLY after a Public hearing on the same - with 21 days' notice, etc. etc. You all know this by now.
Hence, even if TPC/REL now buy at rates that are higher than what was petitioned by them, how can MERC approve (the resultant) higher consumer rates WITHOUT calling for a public hearing first ??
According to me, MERC can only approve what was in the Petition, as that was what was discussed (Ha!) with the Public.
I suspect this is the REAL reason for all this talk of higher purchase rates - just so that MERC can play Santa Claus and "force" these companies to supply only at MYT Petition rates .. and these "poor" disgruntled guys will "grudgingly agree." Exactly, what was done in BEST's case - the same will happen to Tata and REL consumers also!
They all really must take us for fools. But there was a famous saying about, "not being able to fool ALL the people ALL the time."
Think about it.
Feel like doing something about it? Send an email to MERC (see below for text matter).
Well ... and that's how I feel ...
Here's the DRAFT for the email to MERC - CUT AND PASTE IN your "New Mail" or "Compose" window. Please do not forget to add your name, address, email ID, at the end of the text.
Mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Copy to: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission
Sub: How can the Hon'ble MERC approve rates that were not discussed in the Public Hearings?
I have read in the newspapers that electricity companies are now going to charge rates that are higher than what was mentioned in their MYT Petitions.
The Hon'ble Commission has just concluded these MYT public hearings and I am opposed to any hike, as the rates have just been hiked only 6 months back, in October 2006.
I request the Hon'ble MERC to NOT approve the proposed rates, especially any new (undiscussed) rates.
(TYPE NAME, ADDRESS, TEL NO. & EMAIL ID)
Shri Vilasrao Deshmukh, Chief Minister, Maharashtra
Shri Sushil Kumar Shinde, Union Minister of Power
Shri Anil Razdan, Secretary, Ministry of Power
Shri A.K. Basu, Chairman CERC
Monday, April 09, 2007
Maybe the ones that eventually see the light of day are only the half-truth (Ardh Satya!)
Here's my view on what would be the whole truth .. and nothing but the truth? .. I've been reading up on too many legal issues of late ;-)
So, here goes.. read this as ...
... followed by the official by-line ...
.. and then my version of the whole truth .. enjoy!
The tyres we race are the tyres you buy
… so don’t complain if they look worn out !
We cover you at every step in life
... but once you die …
DSP ML Equity Fund
…err, that is to say, we’re still looking, haven’t found it yet!
The Pizza delivery experts
..now only if we could be the “cooking” experts …
The Ice-cream of Juhu
So please excuse the grains of sand!
Think. Aim. Achieve.
… now if only WE could that ourselves …
For those who never compromise
... from those who DO !
First bank in the world to introduce ATMs
… and we still haven’t got it right !
Pure banking. Nothing else.
What? …you expected more??
The Engineer’s choice
but we actually need to be the Builder’s choice!
HDFC Standard Life Insurance
Sar Utha Ke Jiyo
Magar neeche “fine print” mat padho …
MTNL hai to sahi hai
Boss, sahi hai ... sahi banaya …
Happiness begins with BRU
... and ends in acidity
Live wire free
We haven’t got too many strings attached either !
Kal tumhara hai.
Aaj ki baat mat karo.
Where Mumbai shops.
Where? Don’t ask us? We don’t know!
Got it? Just fly – and don’t ask for more!
Singapore International School, Mumbai
Ready for the world. Ready for the Future.
Now, if only we could be ready for Mumbai…
Bachat Mera Adhikaar! Subhiksha Mera Abhimaan!
Lekin itna lambaa byline kisko rahega dhyaan ?
No. 1 Brand recommended by Dentists
They may recommend it, but do they use it? Naah !
The Complete Man.
If he’s already so complete, where do WE fit in??
HDFC Home Loans
With you. Right through.
All the way. Till you don’t pay up.
Dr. Batra’s Multispeciality Homeopathy
Where patients come first
.. and are taken in last, after all the VIPs!
Kohinoor Electronics Store
Your PriceLESS stores.
Your Price, Less stores. Our Price, More Stores.
That’s why your letters get lost!
Union Bank of India
Good people to bank with.
Tell us who they are, and we will also bank with them!
We understand your world.
But our own world is a maze!
Isse Sasta Aur Kahin Nahi.
Hum Price ki baat nahi kar rahe hai.. saste quality ki baat hai …
SONY MONY Electronics
Bada dil. Badi Jagah
Bada Ad. Badi Price.
Because you are worth more.
.. to us, in expanding our database.
…in wearing out.
Club Mahindra Holidays
Fun. Family. Forever.
Forget. Facilities. Fast.
The sweet taste of purity
..is missing from our products
and, to conclude, with my pet peeve ...
Electricity Conservation Drive
I Will. Mumbai Will.
Paying their Bills, there’s nothing left to “Will”
Well ... and that's how I feel ...
Saturday, March 10, 2007
Maha Vitaran areas
Tata/REL BEST areas
Surplus / (Shortage)
Is Mumbai really responsible for “tripping” the State Grid?
It was mentioned in some report that since one of Tata’s units (140 MW, if I’m not mistaken) was down, this has led Tata to “overdraw” from MahaVitaran (based on the “stand-by” arrangement).
Now, even if Tata did draw power for Mumbai, how could it “destabilize” the State network?
Someone’s got their arithmetic all wrong here (and it could even be me !!) .. but if I'm NOT, then the worrying issue is .. is this INTENTIONAL ??? .. and WHO are the real beneficiaries ??
The MSEB network (MahaGenco-MahaTransco-MahaVitaran) is responsible for electricity supply all over
These companies like to give figures in MW (Megawatts) and sometimes in MUs (Million Units), just to confuse the public. While Plant capacities are in MW, we are supplied electricity in units (and charged Rs. Per kWh).
The correlation is this:
Therefore in a year (365 days) it can generate:
Now, the plant has a downtime also and it suffers on account of less Load (Plant Load factor %). So, if the same plant, as above, has a Plant Load Factor of 98.70%, the actual generation is as follows:
The plant itself uses electricity, auxillary consumption (8-10%). This is also factored in to arrive at Net Generation. In our example, if Aux Cons. is 7.59%, then Net Generation is now:
It is this 3995 MUs that goes into the Distribution Network.
There is also a Loss in the Distribution Network, called Transmission & Distribution (T&D)Loss. This loss results in less electricity actually reaching the consumers (paying consumers, that is!).
Did you know that loss across the MSEB network is close to 40% … so even if the State buys costly power from outside at Rs. 6-7 per unit, to meet the shortfall of 15000 MUs (?) only 60% of this will actually reach the consumers !!!
Till we don’t plug the leaks, we will forever, be paying much MORE than what we should. It is better for the State Government to deploy these funds to reduce the T&D loss.
If the State is so magnanimous and has so much of money, it may as well advance the amount as a Subsidy, instead of asking US to pay at these higher rates.
Its all very simple to make grandiose statements of buying expensive power, with SOMEONE ELSE’s MONEY !!
3. Multi-Year Tariff (MYT) Petition Data – Sufficient??
Do you think that your participation in the current
Now there are no Regulations laid out for these Public Hearings and hence there is no stipulation on the amount of time to be given to the Public.
We have to study over 3165 pages...
There’s also a CD with each set.
I think I must be one of the few people in Mumbai who has bought ALL of these. Yes, you have to BUY these. It cost me Rs. 950 (all are Rs. 150 each, except REL which is Rs. 200).
Now we, the Public, are expected to read these, understand these, analyse these, check for errors, make suggestions, send responses to these companies, make 5 copies of our responses and send them to
Incorrect and Insufficient Data
As per BEST’s Petition
As per REL’s Petition
How are we supposed to comment (or object) to such inconsistencies? I guess the electricity companies never thought that someone would cross check the figures with the other companies' submissions!!
It makes sense to decide on the Generator's first and then the Distributor's ... but no one is listening!
Along with 35 other individuals and organisations, I had asked
And as far as the electricity companies are concerned, there is a famous quotation about … not being able to fool ALL the people ALL the time …right ?
Well ... and that's how I feel ...
Friday, February 23, 2007
The entire atmosphere was charged with an air of supreme importance. I was a part of a team of 5, that represented the +25 lakh consumers of Reliance Energy Limited’s (REL) Mumbai consumers.
What an honour !!
Some of you are aware that this was with regard to the appeal made by REL against the October 2006 Tariff Order passed by the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC).
As part of the annual truing up and tariff fixing exercise, MERC had disallowed certain expenses incurred by REL, which is what REL appealed for. This totaled well over Rs. 1,000 cr.
- Rs. 411 cr (towards expenses and income-tax)
- Rs. 226 cr (of allocated reserves)
- Rs. 350 cr (towards the old rebates/discounts of BSES)
- And some uncalculated amounts towards reduction in distribution losses and other generation parameters
REL had their hot-shot team of half-a-dozen legal experts, besides their own team from Mumbai. MERC was represented by 2 legal experts, Prayas (a leading Energy NGO from Pune) also appeared and the Bombay Small Scale Industries Association (BSSIA) lead the team of consumers.
The hearing was spread over two days, with REL taking up a greater part of the 1st day, followed by Prayas, while the BSSIA and MERC did the honours on the 2nd day.
REL gave elaborate reasons for wanting to claim the disallowed amounts. They claimed that the additional Employee costs were on account of implementing MERC’s Statutory Regulations (!) and consumer-friendly services like Call Centre and various language bills.
REL also felt that MERC had unfairly disallowed proportionate income tax, just because REL was doing other business (well, it admitted they were doing other business!). The experts from REL’s legal company, did an admirable job of presenting their case over a (painstaking 4 hours .. phew ..) I must mention the role of the leading lady – who managed to hold her own, in the midst of the utter confusion of the numbers!
On an earlier date, Prayas mentioned that the Rs. 350 cr issue was pending in the Supreme Court (Tata Power has challenged ATE’s order), and the Tribunal asked BSSIA whether it wanted REL to withdraw their appeal or continue to argue the matter. BSSIA said in any case tariff was to be fixed by MERC and not ATE, and therefore the public would have to be called in for a hearing before implementation.
However, when pushed further, BSSIA said that it was prudent to let REL withdraw the appeal for Rs. 350 cr and provide some temporary relief to Mumbai consumers. In any case, if the Supreme Court ruled in favour of REL, no one would have any choice.
Hence, REL filed an amendment the next day and withdrew the demand for 350 cr. Consumers will have temporary relief that the 97 paise per unit will now not be charged. For those who are aware, there's a line which keeps appearing in our bills "AEC not included in this bill" - well, it WON'T - unless and until the Supreme Court decides !
I had the privilege of making the presentation on behalf of the BSSIA. We are given to understand that REL does not have the License in their own name and in fact they had made the present appeal also, only as a corporate entity.
This created quite a commotion and the Tribunal asked us as to how does the consumer benefit, if at all, from this fact. We then pointed out that if REL was to truly comply with the strict License conditions (and if MERC would have ensured compliance), the tariff structure would be a lot more different (read: lower).
MERC’s own Tariff regulations actually specify that a part of the profits of the “other business” would be reduced from the total amount of money to be collected from electricity consumers. With due respect, I was actually surprised at even being asked that question !!
We also pointed out that MERC did not ensure that it complied with Tariff procedure. MERC is supposed to call a public hearing before fixing tariff. However, as regards the Rs. 350 cr issue. MERC did not discuss this in the public hearing of June 2006, but went ahead and directly inserted this in the final October 2006 order. We stated that we would like MERC’s functioning to be a lot more transparent and consumer-friendly.
We also contended that if REL was unhappy with a part of the Order, they need not have implemented it at all and gone straight into appeal. Just like how BEST did when they were unhappy with MERC’s March 2006 Order, which was only implemented in October 2006.
The most important point we made is that Tariff fixing is the sole responsibility of the MERC and NO ONE else can do that – neither the ATE nor the Supreme Court. So even if anyone of these authorities awarded (or adjudicated) any amounts in favour of any supplier, MERC would HAVE to call the public for a discussion before fixing the tariff.
There were many other issues that we took up and I really appreciate the patience of the Tribunal bench in dealing with novices like me ! They are used to dealing only with Government, Corporates and members of the Legal fraternity – but our team really pushed them to their limits! Hat’s off to them ...
The Result ??
I don’t know what will come out in the final order, but we tried our best, for what its worth we’ll keep trying to do more of what we think is right – and I think justice WILL be done … eventually !
Well, I think it can be aptly summed up in the words of one of the Hon’ble bench member, who said, “This has been a learning experience … for both of us” Touché!
I’ve narrated this in good faith, for the public good, so that the people understand how things work. This is without prejudice. I trust no one will take offence.
Well … and that’s how I feel …
Friday, February 16, 2007
BEST, Mumbai has filed its Multi-Year Tariff (MYT) petition, with MERC, which will come up for a Public Hearing on Feb 27th.
These new rates, if approved, will be applicable from 1st April, UNLESS .. you oppose it .. the choice is yours ..
Taking sample cases, here is a quick look of what may happen (the amounts incl. taxes and duty):
Residential Users (with Single phase supply)
100 units .. present .. Rs. 110 .. proposed .. Rs. 211 (91% up)
300 units .. present .. Rs. 707 .. proposed .. Rs. 1,226 (73% up)
400 units .. present .. Rs. 1,406 .. proposed .. Rs. 2,550 (81% up)
Residential Users (with Three-phase supply)
100 units .. present .. Rs. 206 .. proposed .. Rs. 285 (39% up)
300 units .. present .. Rs. 802 .. proposed .. Rs. 1,279 (59% up)
400 units .. present .. Rs. 1,459 .. proposed .. Rs. 2,603 (78% up)
Commercial users (LTC-1/LF-2)
300 units .. present .. Rs. 1,332 .. proposed .. Rs. 2,149 (61% up)
1000 units .. present .. Rs. 5,660 .. proposed .. Rs. 7,303 (29% up)
2000 units .. present .. Rs. 13,070 .. proposed .. Rs. 15,879 (21% up)
(This does not include variable charges for Commercial users above 3000 units per month).
I haven't presented the calculations for Industrial users, but that data is also available in 340-page document.
One of the main reasons for this is that BEST proposes to spend approx Rs. 800 crores in capital assets, over the next three years. Funny, since their average spending over the past 5 years is only in the range of 60-70 crores !!
Well .. as I said, the choice is yours .. keep quiet and pay up .. or stand up and oppose it.
The hearing is scheduled for Feb 27th and the last date for filing comments / objections with MERC is Feb 25th. Anyone else interested in filing a statement?
In case you are interested in what's happening on the electricity issue, please join the bijlee yahoo group at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/bijlee/ and keep yourself updated on the electricity issue - so you don't get rude SHOCKS !!
BTW. The numbers are driving me nuts .. in case I have made a calculation mistake, please bring it to my notice ! Thanks, in advance.
Well ... and that's how I feel ...
Saturday, February 10, 2007
Which means that any company, whether public orprivate, if it is "reporting" to any Government or Regulatory authority, it is liable to give out information under RTI.
With this, the RTI list also includes:
- Private Banks (via RBI)
- Stock Exchange Listed companies (via SEBI)
- Telecom companies (via TRAI)
- Electricity companies (via CERC/MERC/State Commissions)
- Insurance companies (via IRDA)
Some more Regulatory Authorities are in the pipeline:
- Pre-examination Coaching Centres Regulatory Authority of India
- Airport Economic Regulatory Authority
There should be more transparency, now that Consumers can now hold all such companies "answerable" and "accountable."
This news item appeared in MINT, the business newspaper from Hindustan Times. MINT is a great new, refreshing way to read business news...
Here's the link:
I must mention that one needs to register at the site to read the article (however, it's free - and takes less than a minute).
But for those who haven't registered (or won't !), I have reproduced a few excerpts from the article below....
Companies, banks under purview of the govt have to honour RTI requests, clarifies information commission - K. P. Narayana Kumar
M.M. Ansari, information commissioner at the Central Information Commission that oversees the implementation of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005, told Mint that as long as these companies reported to a regulator or a government department, they were within the purview of the sunshine law.
According to the commission, companies will not have to appoint an information officer to deal with right-to-information demands the way government entities do. Applicants will route their requests through the relevant agency.
“Applicants have every right to seek information on a private company even though it is in the private sector, if it reports to a government body,” Ansari says, citing sections of the Act that made this possible.
Only applications that served public interest would be dealt with, not those that sought to erode a company’s competitive position, he adds.
The message: you can ask a cola company for details on how much water it used and where the water came from, but not the formula of its fizzy drink.
If there is any difference of opinion on what constitutes public interest and what doesn’t, the commission will intercede and decide.
Well, and that's how I feel ...
Sunday, January 28, 2007
So stop complaining ... GET UP ... and RUN your country ... Run your State ... RUN your City !!
Say it aloud to yourself .. “I AM THE GOVERNMENT” … the rest of the people who sit in the Govt Offices ... and the Parliament ... are just our Representatives … “Govt Reps”. (I prefer to use the phrase “Govt Reps” ... as opposed to “Govt Servant” ... which I believe is very derogatory).
I was recently in New Delhi (for the REL hearing, as you know) and I met an enlightened soul who, in the middle of an intense discussion turned around and said ... but “YOU are the Government … if there are people in the Govt Offices who are not protecting your interests and rights ... change them … !!”
A simple, powerful, positive thought ... from a simply great soul ! Thank you, PSS ... and God bless you, for reminding me …
Thursday, February 1 is Voting day in Mumbai.
If YOU don’t take responsibility for electing YOUR own Rep ... those who DO go and VOTE ... will get the Rep of THEIR choice … and YOU can sit back and keep complaining … for the next five years …
And the next time a candidate comes to your house asking for your vote - if seeking re-election, first ask him/her what he/she has done during their tenure and how much of YOUR money have they spent ... and WHERE …
If seeking to be elected for the first time, ask for their agenda … and firm plan of action … for improving YOUR area … and note down all their contact numbers and addresses… to keep a check on them later …
Choose you OWN Rep ... keep them accountable … get them to make their functioning transparent ... be vigilant about their transgressions … at the same time, empower them to protect your interests … sure you can’t do that alone ... but then 10-20-50 people getting together can make all the difference !
See the Local Area Citizen’s Group Charter by Karmayog on http://www.karmayog.com/lacg/lacgindex.htm
See what’s being done by the Juhu Citizens Group at http://www.juhucitizen.org/aboutus.htm ... and by Loksatta, on http://www.votemumbai.org/aboutus.asp
PLEASE GO VOTE ... and take responsibility of running your own city ... or else STOP complaining about what's happening around you.
... if YOU abdicate YOUR responsibility ... you have NO right to complain ...!!
Well ... and that's how I feel ...
Monday, January 22, 2007
Well, I attended that hearing.
Here are brief details of what happened ...
As per the Notice issued to us, 3 of us from the Bombay Small Scale Industries Association (BSSIA) and 2 independent consumers turned up on Jan 18th, to protest against REL's proposed hike.
At the hearing, NO other consumer organisation from Mumbai (or anywhere else) turned up.
Though we (and one representative from MERC) were present, the REL counsel, took an adjournment, without our consent, and left !!
However, when we brought this matter to the attention of the Hon'ble Bench, they were gracious and just, to list the matter on Board again the next day and issued orders to all concerned to be present.
On 19th, again, NO other consumer organisation from Mumbai turned up !!
But, Prayas Energy, (a Pune NGO) showed up and made a representation against the hike (see DNA press report here http://www.dnaindia.com/report.asp?NewsID=1075497 ).
The BSSIA is of the opinion that since REL does not have a License, they have no right to make the appeal, at all.
The REL counsel was asked why no consent was sought from the BSSIA, especially since they themselves had sent a Notice to BSSIA and about 8 other persons to be present on Jan 18th.
REL had no reply to offer and again requested that the matter be adjourned with a short date of Feb 5th, which they had taken earlier.
We all were ready to have discussions (known as "arguing the matter") and so were the MERC counsel and the Prayas representative, but REL did not want to ... and kept insisting on an adjournment, just because some senior counsel of theirs was not available.
What a reason ! Especially when all the others were present to argue the matter. Such gross misuse of the system leads to a waste of time (of the people and the Courts) and public money - which eventually YOU and I will pay for - as part of our electricity bills !!
The Hon'ble Court then penalised REL for calling everyone to Delhi and then asking for another date - consequently, making everyone come again. Though the press report says that BSSIA asked for reimbursement, thats not true.
The Hon'ble Court then awarded all those present (Prayas, BSSIA and other individuals, but not MERC) an amount of Rs. 1 Lakh, as damages.
The Hon'ble Court was very eager to hear the consumers (Thank God .. & the Hon'ble Court !!) and asked for our confirmation for the next date. We requested for a date after Feb 17th and a date of Feb 20th, was agreed upon, by all present.
So, till Feb 20th - this matter is staved off - so we all can breathe a little easy, as the "AEC charges" may not be levied in our next set of bills also.
While we will continue to fight such irresponsible hikes, the important questions are:
- Where did the nominated Mumbai consumer organisation (Mumbai Grahak Panchayat) go ?
- Why didn't they attend ? Especially after being quoted in the Press as having a commitment to protest (see Hindustan Times, dated 14-1-2007)
- They could have submitted a written protest - but didn't - WHY ?
- Why is there no accountability ?
- How does MERC even authorise such entities ?
- What should consumers do when their (supposedly) own representatives do not perform ?
The last question is very important in the perspective that BMC elections are around the corner. (More on this later).
This experience just shows the machinations of large corporations and how they wield their power to manipulate the system.
Sign the online petition for removing this unholy exclusivity and let's pave the way for competition - so that we don't have to deal with this again...Ever ! Do that here: www.petitiononline.com/oct2006/petition.html
Well ... and that's how I feel ...
This information has been posted in good faith, in the interest of
public good, without prejudice.
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
~ Electricity Generation, Transmission & Distribution
~ Electricity Trading
~ Mumbai Metro Rail
~ Reliance Bluemagic D-T-H
~ Highway Construction
You also know how they are not allowed to do any non-electricity business without permission.
You also know that REL does not have the License for Mumbai area.
And you also know how they are flouting all these rules, just because we consumers do not have any alternative.
Anyway, strangely, Metro Rail, DTH and Highway Construction do not find any mention on REL's website (www.rel.co.in) either in the "About us" or in the "Company Profile" or in the "Group companies" .. or anywhere else ...
Does REL want to HIDE these facts ????
Another thing ... while the Mumbai electricity business is being done under the name of "Reliance Energy", the New Delhi electricity business is in the name of "BSES" ...!!!!!!
The REL website of the Delhi business is named www.bsesdelhi.com !!
And the two subsidiaries are called "BSES Rajdhani Power Limited' and "BSES Yamuna Power Limited."
Open the pdf file of the License, check Point No. 5.2 (d) which says that a License cannot be sold transfered, assigned, etc ... without permission. (This is standard for all electricity Licenses).
We consumers do not have time for such shenanigans – let's sign in and end this monopoly, so we don’t have to play policeman all the time.
Please sign the online petition at
and lets remove this monopoly once and for all.
Well ... and that's how I feel ...
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