By P.T. Bopanna
Has Virajpet MLA A.S. Ponnanna failed to adequately address the low voltage problem being faced by the people of Kodagu (Coorg) in the last few decades?
The irrigation of coffee plants will start in Kodagu in the next few weeks, but the planters have no clue as to how the state government has geared up to face the challenge posed by low voltage supply of power which makes it difficult to run the pump-sets, especially for small planters.
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah is visiting Kodagu on January 25 to review the development works in the district. But the IAS secretary in-charge of Kodagu, N.V. Prasad who chaired a meeting to review the progress of works, and shared the details with press, there is no mention of the low voltage problem, which is perhaps the most critical issue being faced by the hill district.
The Chamundeshwari Electricity Supply Corporation (CESC) has utterly failed to manage power supply in the district which is spread over hilly and forested areas. The blame for the poor power supply is mainly because the previous BJP MLAs failed in taking up modernisation of the network.
Though people expected much after Ponnanna of the Congress was elected MLA, no serious attempt was made to address the issue, except appointing a retired engineer to hear the grievances of the power consumers.
This reporter wrote a series of articles on the power scenario in the district which prompted the CESC to take up a few steps to mitigate the sufferings of the people.
During his visit to Kodagu, the chief minister should order the shifting of the circle office to Kodagu which is presently in Chamarajanagar. While CESC has a chief engineer and a superintending engineer in Hassan district, Kodagu is being served by an assistant executive engineer.
On his part, MLA Ponnanna should set up a war room attached to his office to deal with critical problems being faced by the district. He should set up a ‘think tank’ of experts who could offer solutions.
Kodagu is fortunate to have several retired power engineers, including K.S. Thimmaiah, who had previously served with Tata Power in senior management level. Rathan Kilar, a retired superintending Engineer (Electrical), KPTCL, is familiar with the local issues.
There is a lack of transparency in the working of Ponnanna, as he does not address press conferences to share update on various works.
Instead of posting routine matters on his social media pages, he should give updates on the developmental works in his constituency. Ponnanna should emulate the social media practices of revenue minister Krishna Byre Gowda, who posts regular updates on the work taken up by him in his constituency.