AS protests which turned violent at a number of places continued all over the country against the power tariff hike, consumers were provided temporary relief by slashing the bills by 40 percent. Coming as it does amidst frequent power breakdowns, the rise in tariffs turned out to be the proverbial last straw on the camel's back, leading to a spontaneous outburst of resentment all over the country. The government circles first relied on the over-used conspiracy theory to explain away the outpouring of resentment. However, realism finally prevailed, leading to the setting up of a committee headed by the Water and Power Minister which allowed the stakeholders, including NEPRA, PEPCO and representatives of the business community, to present their often sharply differing points of view. While the announcement was supposed to provide some solace to the harassed consumers, many consider it an eyewash. The electricity bills had already been raised in August by 16 percent and the new rise, amounting to 80 percent on average, naturally shocked the consumers. As the rise came amid unprecedented inflation, it put an unbearable burden on consumers, particularly those belonging to the lower income group. The rise was this time strongly opposed by the business community also, which was already overburdened with extra expenses on generators which had to be employed during frequent power outages. At places, the community announced it would simply refuse to pay the bills. Business representatives told the committee that they feared the collapse of the industrial sector if the decision was not reversed. Hopefully, the sub-committee formed to review the new rates would keep in mind the sufferings of the common man and the plight of industry. It is ironic that while the government has agreed to invest Rs 50 billion to bail out the bourses, it has failed to pay long outstanding dues to the IPPs, which has caused their units to work below capacity. The government should make the maximum use of coal, oil and gas, and wind power to produce energy to fulfil the country's immediate needs, and also construct small dams that can start producing power at the earliest. The exit of India from the IPI gas pipeline project has removed some of the hurdles that had delayed the finalisation of the project. There is a need to urgently conclude the deal so that Iranian gas can be used to produce power. In the long run the country's fast increasing energy requirements can only be met through mega-projects. The political leadership needs to take measures to evolve the necessary consensus on these. The country should be able not only to produce enough energy for itself, but also export it, a goal that was set when the IPPs were brought in. Power charges can be brought down only through production of energy on a large scale.