Electricity and Gas: Chennai Experience

#1 Mar 10th, 2005, 17:48
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#1
In some ways, India must have changed so much in the last decade or so.

Telephone Connection

With stories about the months of delay and vast bribes that people have have paid to get a telephone installed I set off with trepidation to the BSNL office.

DAY 1. 3.00pm It's the wrong office. They give me a form and directions to the right office, telling me that new registrations are only accepted up until 4.00pm.

DAY1. 3.30pm I'm told by a very helpful man that there is no problem with providing the phone, but I must have a bank draft for R3000 deposit. He sends me to the local General Manager, who explains that, "due to internal problems" they are forbidden from handling cash, and I will be easily able to obtain this draft for cash from most banks. Oh, I need a passport photo too, which I get on the way home.

DAY 2 1.40pm (pity I'm not much good at getting started in the mornings!) I order a Demand Draft at a local bank and wait for the cashier to come back from her lunch.

DAY 2 2.30pm Hand over form and draft at BSNL office. I should have brought a photocopy of my tenancy agreement for them to keep, but someone kindly copies it for me

DAY 3 and 4 Saturday and Sunday

DAY 5 11.30am Two men on bicycles with a phone, a coil of cable and a pair of pliers install phone. My friend has briefed me how much to tip them, and to get their phone numbers so that I have a direct contact to them if I need an engineer.

DAY 6 11.30am I get a call from the exchange telling me phone number and the phone now works.

That's less than 2 working days from handing the form in. Brilliant!

Gas "Connection"

I've noticed what looks like the local office of the Government Gas distributors (cheaper than the private ones). Thinking that this one was more likely to require Tamil I took my friend along.

I took my Phone documents along as evidence of address, and there was no problem at all in getting a connection from them, despite my non-indianness.

A slight 'angle' here: there's a ten-day waiting list. Unless you buy your stove from us, in which case you can have the gas bottles, the regulator, the pipe and the stove today. No problem! I ask them to come the next morning. Again, my friend has briefed me: "there will be two guys, give them R20 each". They ask for more and I explain that I have given as advised by my Tamil friend, which they immediately accept!
~
Life gets aadhar every day.
.
#2 Mar 10th, 2005, 18:50
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#2

I say,

that's impressive. Either it was truly fortuitous(bless your stars, sacrifice that goat, cross yourself, break a coconut) or that BSNL is truly customer oriented.
#3 Mar 11th, 2005, 16:50
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#3
Quote:
Originally Posted by Digital Drifter that's impressive. Either it was truly fortuitous(bless your stars, sacrifice that goat, cross yourself, break a coconut) or that BSNL is truly customer oriented.
Ahh, I forgot to mention the goat and the coconut
#4 Mar 11th, 2005, 18:23
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It took my grandfather’s application 20 (bloody) years to get the phone sanctioned. The waiting list was like that. That’s first it took so many years to have an exchange commissioned. The so many years to expand the lines (that’s the telephone lines to reach near our place). And so many years for their capacity increase….till (like we say) ‘our number has arrived!’. And telephone was treated like luxury stuff.

Being a government company BSNL is still ‘lethargic’ compared to other telephone service providers. They (other private companies) almost come to your house, collect the check and give the connection. Sort of phone on phone. As simple as that. A boon of privatization, may be.

Ditto with the (cooking) gas. We had 8 years or so of waiting list with the state run companies. Now the same fellows are on the run because of competition. We had an inspector coming first. He surveys the place for safety (my grandma’s kitchen!!). Then he sends a report about the safety. After this report a ‘team’ comes for installation of the cylinder. And the refill waiting time for the cylinders were about 2 to 3 months.

Now it’s almost like buying a TV. Go to a gad sealer shop; select the stove etc (the agents make money out of selling the stoves, they don’t get much of profit from the cylender ). And drive home with all that is required. As simple as that. also the refil cyllenders are delivered on call, @ rs10 for home delivery charge.

....things has changed for good.
#5 Mar 11th, 2005, 19:40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beach Being a government company BSNL is still ‘lethargic’ compared to other telephone service providers. They (other private companies) almost come to your house, collect the check and give the connection. Sort of phone on phone. As simple as that. A boon of privatization, may be.
Not always a boon. Here's an interesting read...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bibek Debroy in Indian Express On Saturday afternoon, I get a call from a sweet little thing. “How are you today, Mr Bibek?” she asks. This kind of question always puts me off. Bibek is fine. So is Mr Debroy. But Mr Bibek irritates me. “Will you come to the point and not waste my time?” I say. She isn’t put off. She is calling on behalf of Touchtel. Would we like a Touchtel connection? Actually, we wouldn’t. We already have a surfeit of landlines and mobile phones. There is no earthly reason why we should want another landline.

Complete story: The Hand That Rocked The Cable
Last edited by soulfood; Mar 11th, 2005 at 22:14..
#6 Mar 11th, 2005, 21:51
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#6
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick-H Unless you buy your stove from us, in which case you can have the gas bottles, the regulator, the pipe and the stove today. No problem! I

This is BS. Many of these government company distributors quote this rather easily: that "every gas connection has to be accompanied by a compulsory purchase of an approved stove" or something similar. The reality is, the government companies have never ever spelt such a rule anywhere. The distributors have formed a cartel of sorts, invented this ruse and are making money. Just refuse it.
...and I took the road less travelled.
#7 Mar 11th, 2005, 21:57
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#7
Quote:
Originally Posted by beach We had an inspector coming first. He surveys the place for safety (my grandma’s kitchen!!). Then he sends a report about the safety. After this report a ‘team’ comes for installation of the cylinder.
Despite all negatives, This is a very positive exercise that is strictly done by the distributors.

Having worked in a "Private" consumer energy company, I had come to know that many Indian kitchens are not suitably built for safe use of bottled LPG. The lack of safety is primarily the lack of proper cross-ventilation that enables the exit of any leaking gas into atmosphere rendering it completely inert. Add to this, in my own inspections, I have found residents placing the stove or hot-plate rather precariously close to the cylinder, placing the stove at a level lower than the cylinder or placing the cylinder in an enclosed space or even close to a live wire!

In my own inmspection trips, I have forced consumers to re-set their stoves and cylinders and even replaced their worn out gas tubes.
#8 Mar 12th, 2005, 01:51
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#8
Quote:
Originally Posted by beach
We had an inspector coming first. He surveys the place for safety (my grandma’s kitchen!!). Then he sends a report about the safety. After this report a ‘team’ comes for installation of the cylinder.


Despite all negatives, This is a very positive exercise that is strictly done by the distributors.
All this safety concern, while autorikshaws and maruti vans (a van built on a mini cooper sized chassis) run amuck on the streets with LPG cylinders tucked away under the driver or in the trunk!
#9 Mar 12th, 2005, 03:53
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Originally Posted by crvlvr All this safety concern, while autorikshaws and maruti vans (a van built on a mini cooper sized chassis) run amuck on the streets with LPG cylinders tucked away under the driver or in the trunk!
In this case too, there is no written assurance from any of the government companies that the practice is safe. In fact, all the officers of these companies whom I met, have discouraged such installations. The culprits are the 'private'LPG suppliers.

There is a primary reason to this...LPG as an alternative fuel is not dangerous...in fact, it is much more cleaner and efficient than gasoline. The 'danger' factor also does not come from the gaseous form of the fuel...liquid populsion fuel in rockets is much more unstable! Plus, it is much safer to have a cylinder in open air rather than the four walls of your house!
The 'danger' is in using a bottle meant for vertical use in a horizontal position.

All the LPG conversion kits fitted to vehicles warrant the need for the LPG bottle to be horizontal in position. LPG is in a pressurized liquid form and the release of pressure turns it into gas. But when in the horizontal position, there is a danger of the liquid itself discharging into the release nozzle.

If a drop of LPG in liquid form turns into gas, its volume increases 275 times! So a little liquid discharging into the release nozzle can become a whole lot of un-leashed gas...thereby risking explosion.

The ruse is simple. Use the cylinder vertically with sufficient ventilation. on the contrary, these private LPG companies could issue special cylinders that are low in height but wide enough to fit into the constricted harnesses of the vehicles (such cylinders are available in Europe).
#10 Mar 14th, 2005, 12:12
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#10

I now have Broadband!

As a one-time yachtsperson I am very familiar with the possible dangers of LPG. In a floating box where there is possibility of it draining away (it is heavier than air) the resultant explosion, if anchored in the bay, has been known to blow out the windows of sea-side houses, leaving no noticable remans of the boat

But the next chapter of the story is: I now have Broadband!

Just two weeks after filling in the form and giving it in at the BSNL office (no money required up-front this time) my friendly local engineer turns up (on a Saturday afternoon) with a modem (note for the techies... actually it is an ADSL router with only one ethernet port), an ethernet cable and a piece of paper with my login and pasword.

Luckily my friend was here... I failed to understand that my username needed '@dataone' on the end (the guy on the phone was saying 'at-rate'). As an ex- IT manager I was humbled by my girlfriend taking the phone from me and getting the thing working in seconds She also reduced the 'tip' to R50 ...saying, she told me, 'yes, he is a foreigner: if I hadn't been here he might have given only 25!'

It is 256 and file dowloads seem to indicate that that is what I'm getting. My precious much-missed BBC works fine, which is a great blesing, as I've got my first attack of 'stay within 30 seconds of the toilet'

I can't get my Lotus Notes to send mail to my UK ISP, but, really I'm not too fussed just now and don't feel like spending time being a techie.

So, no more i-way for me The one advantage of i-way was meeting up with tourists, but my local one here doesn't really get any.

So: IM ONLINE. No need to ever go out of the front door again! See India? Hey! I can read IndiaMike at home

But, for 24 hours, no IndiaMike . Some sort of routing problem, just couldn't reach it. I was wondering how I was going to discuss this with my local man (BT in UK would have been bad enough; 'what version of Windows are you using?' 'Nothing to do with it; I do a tracert and it gets so far and fails'. 'Sorry, sir, we don't support that, install the latest MS service pack and then call back'.... Grrrrr.... ).
#11 Mar 14th, 2005, 15:28
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#11
Seriously, Investigate the goat sacrifice! Propitate the Gods. This is /not/ supposed to happen, in India.

Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo oooooooooooooooo!

Whatever happened to apathy & indifference?
#12 Mar 14th, 2005, 15:37
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#12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Digital Drifter Whatever happened to apathy & indifference?
I couldn't care less
#13 Aug 9th, 2009, 08:50
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#13
I decided against the gas connection - bought an electric 2-burner stove - works great.

BSNL office is next door, and that they don't speak (read that REFUSE) English will only be the slightest of probs.

All this is easy compared to the bank account. Yesterday had 4 different answers at 4 different banks. They'll be tired of seeing me soon.

But I get my year liquor permit tomorrow, and by evening may not care if I have a bank account or not
<< Back to India - 2 Feb '09 >>
#14 Aug 9th, 2009, 15:53
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#14
Old memories resurrected. Thank you

Your electric stove will be fine, except during the power cuts!
#15 Aug 9th, 2009, 19:48
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#15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick-H View Post So: IM ONLINE. No need to ever go out of the front door again! See India? Hey! I can read IndiaMike at home...
33K posts and you've been doing them from internet cafes? Damn!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick-H View Post
But, for 24 hours, no IndiaMike .
I've noticed that IM is unavailable semi-regularly, or at least more often than my other commonly-visited sites. The outages are rarely over a few hours...

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