Calcutta, June 27: The government today set up a committee to recommend ways to remodel the state electricity board to set up separate entities for transmission and distribution according to the provisions of the Electricity Act, 2003.
Power minister Mrinal Banerjee said the eight-member committee headed by former board chairman Subir Dasgupta will give its recommendations within a month.
“As per the provisions of the new central act, the set-up handling the transmission part of electricity will not be able to indulge in any kind of business,” Banerjee said.
“The distribution becomes more important because it will handle collection of tariff, providing connections to consumers, attending to complaints and ensuring supply of power,” he said.
Banerjee said the act, which came into effect on June 10, does not make it mandatory for the distribution network to be run by the government and did not rule out private participation in the area.
Banerjee also expressed concern about the agitation by the SUCI-dominated All Bengal Electricity Consumers’ Association, whose activists had yesterday assaulted several CESC employees at its Taratola office while protesting bills they said were inflated.
The Citu-controlled Calcutta Electricity Supply Workmen’s Union today submitted a memorandum to Banerjee demanding adequate security for workers.
“The union leaders also threatened to stop generation of electricity if attacks on them continued. But I have requested them not to make such a move,” Banerjee said.
“The government now has no control over fixing of tariff. But the association activists are misguiding ordinary people and organising movements. Instead of launching such agitations, they should go to Delhi and seek explanations from Union government officials,” said the power minister.
Banerjee said he will take up the association’s recent agitation with state CPM leaders and urge his party to fight the issue politically. “I will also urge the government and police authorities to make adequate security arrangements to enable people to pay their electricity bills safely,” he added.
The power minister also hinted that the state government would sooner or later withdraw cross-subsidy on electricity tariff as recommended in the new central act.
The South 24-Parganas police today arrested 20 association activists for organising a rally from Manton in Behala. The SUCI had called a 12-hour bandh in Behala in protest against the “police atrocity” on its activists yesterday.
CESC vice-chairman Sanjiv Goenka met chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee at Writers’ Buildings today to discuss a plan to set up a 500-MW power plant in the state.
Goenka said the proposed plant will have two coal-fired 250-MW units and a final decision on the site is yet to be taken. “We are committed to add to the existing generation capacity,” Goenka said.
The CESC vice-chairman denied that electricity bills of all consumers had shot up.
“We are addressing all kinds of genuine problems. By and large, our distribution system is as good or bad as anywhere else,” he said.