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'Emerging economy? First curb power theft'

Yesterday India faced one of the biggest blackouts in its history, which effected over 700 million Indians. While the central government is blaming the state governments for overdrawing power, Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, economist and journalist, thinks its a reality check for an India that wants to be a super power.

"What has happened over the last 48 hours exposes our pretensions as a so called emerging economy," Guha said to CNN-IBN.

Guha pointed out that the power problem is much deeper than just few states overdrawing.

Passengers wait for the resumption of train services at Sealdah Station in Kolkata on Tuesday. Train services were disrupted on Tuesday following failure of northern and eastern electricity grids. PTI

"What has happened kind off epitomises two things that have gone wrong with our society, polity and economy - greed and corruption," he said.

Unchecked power theft and and very low penalties are root problems in the power sector, Guha said.

"Our state electricity boards would be richer by 2,00,000 crore rupees if they could stop theft. It goes by the euphemism transmission and distribution losses. It should be really called theft and dacoity losses because the bulk of it is plain, simple chori," he said.

"If we could impose discipline, then the greed of the few wouldn't cause such misery to so many. We have created a system were the penalties for overdrawing power are ridiculously low and therefore in a sense encouraging," he added.

Guha also mentions how India has been neglecting renewable energy, which is used world over to take care of peak loads.

"We have a huge structural problems. Eighty percent of our power is coal based thermal power, it creates what is suppose to be base load. World over peak loads are taken care of by hydroelectricity and renewable energy like wind power and solar power. We have deliberately neglected this," he said.