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Bengal power bonds soon

Calcutta, July 28: The West Bengal government will raise Rs 2100 crore next month to clear the dues of National Thermal Power Corporation and other power generators by issuing bonds in the market, Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) chairman Ashok Basu said today.

All the state governments had agreed to raise funds by issuing tax-free bonds with their guarantees to clear Rs 41,000 crore of dues, including surcharge, to power generating units to improve the financial condition of electricity boards, Basu said.

The formula has been worked out on the basis of the recommendations of the Montek Singh Ahluwalia Committee on one-time settlement of the dues of electricity boards.

“I have been told that the West Bengal government is going to issue bonds to raise Rs 2100 crore by the end of this month or probably next month. Other states will also issue similar bonds as per agreement reached at a meeting on March 3,” the chairman said.

He said the resource-raising move was part of the overall plan to improve the financial status of SEBs.

According to Basu, the Electricity Act, 2003 has a provision under which SEBs can set up special courts and ombudsman to settle any dispute involving the consumers. “These should be set up by the SEBs at the earliest,” he said.

Commenting on CERC’s effort following the introduction of the new act, Basu said a five-point roadmap for regulation has been charted out and they would come out with specific terms and conditions of tariff for the period beginning April 2004.

“The discussion paper is already on the website and orders are expected by December this year,” he said.

According to Basu, CERC will issue guidelines on transmission and power trading licences by September this year.

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