Investing Social Capital in the Power Sector: A Look at Participatory Management of Electricity Distribution System in Rural Areas
MANAGEMENT OF POWER SECTOR FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT, pp. 100-124, S. Mallikharjuna Rao, ed., Himalaya Publishing House, Mumbai, 2009
25 Pages Posted: 15 Dec 2009 Last revised: 18 Dec 2009
Date Written: December, 13 2009
Rural areas in Karnataka have been facing power crisis for a long time. More than 72.2% of the rural population uses the electricity for lighting and farming. There is a huge shortage of power supply, whose major share in the electricity comes from Hydel projects. But with the shortage of rainfall and more than 70% of the Talukas being declared drought hit, the problem has only increased. This paper attempts to look at participatory management of power sector in rural areas.
In the Fiscal year 2002-2003, the Karnataka Government came with a proposal to involve rural youth in the collection of electricity charges and old dues in villages. Though it was a hit initially with the vigorous youth, villagers in many areas grew suspicious of the Electricity Company as well as these youth of being hand in glove in what they thought was unnecessary harassment. There were also cases of these youth being involved in corrupt practices. These youth saw the project initially as a stepping-stone for a permanent placement in the Electricity Company. It was only a provisional arrangement, a contract system based on commission. Their hopes were shattered and the programme collapsed in many areas. The cause for the failure of the programme was mutual suspicion. First between the youth and other villagers, then between the villagers and the Electricity Company and finally between the youth and the company officials.
In this background, an attempt is made to apply the theory of social capital, which explains cooperation, coordination and collaboration for mutual benefits based on the principles of trust, values and norms, in the restructuring of electricity distribution system in rural areas, with the creation of small associations or affinity groups.
Keywords: Yuva Prathinidhi, Trust, Social Capital, Electricity, KPTCL
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