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Good response to CESC exit scheme

Calcutta, Nov. 11: CESC has received a good response to its voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) launched on November 1.

In the first 10 days, the RPG-controlled power utility has received 1,000 applications. The company has targeted 4,000 people through the scheme, which will remain open for a month.

Company sources said the employees feel that the going will get tough following the introduction of the New Electricity Act, 2003.

“The entire power scenario will change once the regulations under the new act becomes effective. Therefore, the employees are applying for the retirement scheme,” sources added.

The company has introduced VRS according to the directions of the Supreme Court and the West Bengal Electricity Regulatory Commission (WBERC).

WBERC had categorically stated that the company should close down Mulajore and New Cossipore stations to reduce the cost of power generation.

Following a reduction in the number of employees the cost of power generation will be reduced by 10 paise per unit.

The minimum payout under the VRS is Rs 33,000, while the maximum is Rs 5 lakh. The management has agreed to provide medical facilities for five years to the employees opting for the retirement scheme.

The company, which has sought the Bengal government’s permission to close down the Mulajore unit, may not redeploy the 500 employees of this unit even though unions have demanded it.

Sources said while about 59 employees of this unit below 40 years would be redeployed, the rest would have to go. The employees have sought help from the state labour department on this issue.

The state government has called a meeting with the management on Wednesday to discuss the matter. Company managing director Sumantra Banerjee said, “We would not like to talk about the matter at this point. Let things be sorted out first.”

Sources said the company’s main focus is an all-round improvement in its operations. The company has been able to improve the plant load factor of Budge Budge, Titagarh and southern generating stations, which accounts for about 90 per cent of the company’s power generation. The plant load factor is currently pegged at 87 per cent.

The company has recently received a favourable debt restructuring package from its banks and financial institutions which will enable it to save Rs 50-60 crore annually.

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