Govt Ministers Stumped by Questions about Electricity Supply in Chin State
20 November 2012: Government officials of Chin State including Chief Minister were unable to answer questions raised by locals regarding ‘unfair’ electricity supply in Hakha at a meeting on 16 November.
Pu Hrang Kep, head of Dawrthar Ward administration, stood up raising a ‘bold’ question about discriminatory practices in supplying electricity in the Chin capital following a presentation by Chief Minister Pu Hung Ngai.
“You talked about reduction of electricity supply to ordinary Hakha residents. But we know that a special line has been set up to provide full supply of electricity to military camps on Mount Rungtlang, Buddhist monasteries, and government-related offices.”
Pu Hung Ngai, who had given a powerpoint presentation on government’s plans to further reduce electricity supply to every four nights, was floored by the ‘unexpected’ question at a public meeting held last Friday.
He said the government made decisions to cut down on the amount of electricity being supplied from 6pm to 10pm every three nights because hydro-power stations at Laiva and Tongva could no longer generate enough energy.
Another local from Dawrthar Ward, Pu Lal Kung, said the timing and number of electricity supply have become more irregular or interrupted and on the decrease since the new government took office.
Residents in Dawrthar Ward depend more on electricity supply from private electric generators, for which families would pay a monthly fee of 3,000 kyats for 2ft long fluorescent tubes and 5,000 kyats for using TV.
“The local people face major problems with electricity and a lot of families cannot afford to pay for private generators. You [government] must take serious considerations about this issue,” added Pu Hrang Kep.
It is claimed that there are about 24 privately owned electric generators being used in Dawrthar Ward only, one of the six in Hakha, a city with about 7,000 houses and an estimated 20,000 people.
Sources from Hakha also said that residential areas of Mount Rungtlang, police quarters, and military intelligence are fully supplied with electricity in a separate line.
The participants also demanded detailed explanation on how other towns and villages in Chin State are given electricity, according to a Chin reporter, who attended the Hakha meeting.
“It is such an encouraging and eye-opening meeting. Normally, people would sit down and just listen. But this time, participants have changed the way in which a meeting is held,” added the Chin community leader.
Attended by about 700 residents in Hakha, mostly households using government-controlled electric meter boxes, the meeting was organized and chaired by both Chief Minister and Minister of Electric Power of Chin State government.
“The meeting came to an end with further public discussions to follow in the new future after they [government ministers] said they would take a look at the issues properly,” said Pa Thang, a meeting participant.
Reporting by Thawng Zel Thang