Q.1) Distribution Companies (DisComs) have been called the lynchpin but also the weakest link in the electricity chain. Critically analyse. (250 words)
Why this question?
- The Indian government responded to COVID-19’s economic shock with a stimulus package of ₹20-lakh crore, out of which ₹90,000 crore was earmarked for DisComs (later upgraded to ₹1,25,000 crore). Thus the question.
Introduction: Mention the significance of Discoms in the electricity chain of India.
Brief info about electricity chain-Generators, transmission and distribution
Poor health of discoms:
- Cross subsidization
- The AT&C (aggregate transmission and distribution losses)
- The gap between the cost of electricity bought (average cost of supply) and supplied (average revenue realized)
- COVID-19 lockdown
- Non Performing assets (NPA) Stress in banking sector
- Lower per capita consumption
Way forward & conclusion: Discoms must therefore,
- buy cost-efficient power for consumers,
- ensure supply reliability with quality by minimising losses/leakages
- accurately meter, bill, and collect payments from the consumers, and
- thereby, enable timely payments to the generators.
These are key steps towards sustaining the entire energy value chain without power supply disruptions. There is a need for another scheme to address the shortfall of UDAY’s targets.
Q.2) Analyse the geopolitics of Gilgit-Baltistan in the J&K issue. (150 words)
Why this question?
- Reports indicate that the Pakistan government is on the verge of declaring Gilgit-Baltistan a province of Pakistan. Thus the question.
Introduction: Since independence Gilgit-Baltistan was governed as a separate entity by Pakistan and not as a part of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK). Islamabad had hesitated to declare it a province of Pakistan because of its claim that J&K is disputed territory and its future must be decided by a plebiscite among all its inhabitants.
- The revocation of Article 370
- The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) runs through Gilgit-Baltistan and China has invested heavily in the region.
- China opposes New Delhi’s decision to separate Ladakh from J&K.
- Beijing views the Indian move as the first step towards India attempting to enforce its claim on Aksai Chin, currently under Chinese occupation.
- Strategic location: It is contiguous to Ladakh as well as Xinjiang and could act as a staging post against India if a major India -China conflict erupts in Ladakh.
- There is already substantial Chinese civilian presence in Gilgit-Baltistan related to CPEC projects.
- China is interested in stationing military personnel as well.
Conclusion: India must calibrate its response carefully to any strategic movement in Gilgit-Baltistanit as it may play into Chinese and Pakistani hands and escalate the situation.