CHENNAI: The screening of a Hindi documentary film Katiyabaaz, depicting power thefts in the industrial city of Kanpur and its dismal electricity situation, set off a lively discussion among former TNEB officials and a bureaucrat gathered at the event, in a preview theatre in the city on Tuesday.
The panelists at the discussion after the screening, which included retired IAS officer MG Devasahayam and former EB engineers S Dhanavelu and Chokkalingam, opined that strict and honest officials of the TNEB had ensured that power thefts of the like depicted in the movie were extremely minimal in the State.
The documentary, directed by Fahad Mustafa and Deepti Kakkar, depicts the frequent load shedding and power shortage in Kanpur through the story of a local power thief (Katiyabaaz), who provides illegal connections to the lower classes by using wires to plug into official connections. The movie was filmed in the run-up to the 2012 Uttar Pradesh State elections, when the Samajwadi party trounced the Bahujan Samajwadi Party with power shortage as one of the key poll issues. The movie also shows how the power distribution companies grapple with the dichotomy of increasing demand and long hours of load shedding, an aspect that found resonance among the 100 odd Tamil Nadu viewers.
Murmurs of “The situation is so pathetic in Kanpur. TN is way better. Will our situation also deteriorate like that” could be heard from the audience at the end of the movie. “Though power theft does take place in TN, I’ve seen such primitive methods like attaching hooks to overhead wires only during political rallies and village fairs. Underground electricity lines have prevented that,” said Dhanavelu.
Devasahayam noted that the vigilance and anti-corruption drives in TN were effective and a situation like in Kanpur where under-recoveries were huge, was non-existent. He also blamed the TN Electricity Regulatory Commisssion (TNERC) for not coming out with a detailed analysis of the power situation which could address the Transmission and Distribution (TnD) losses.
Speaking to Express, the film’s director Fahad said that unlike TN, there were very little citizen or consumer initiatives in Kanpur to determine and resolve electricity issues. “There is lack of trust between the consumers and the electricity board officials,” he said.