The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Govt postpones power board split
- Citu, CPI objection prompts review

Calcutta, June 8: Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today deferred a decision on the Subimal Sen committee report that recommended splitting the state electricity board to improve efficiency and the bottomline.

Power minister Mrinal Banerjee told The Telegraph: “The cabinet, which met today, has not taken any decision on the Subimal Sen committee report. The CM has directed us to review the report once again.”

The government was supposed to restructure the power board within a year of the inception of Electricity Act, 2003. The deadline expires on June 10.

Power department insiders said the move to stall the board’s restructuring for the time being was a result of pressure from the CPM’s trade union wing, the Citu.

Some of the allies were also not keen on the restructuring. At the cabinet meeting, CPI leader and minister for water resources development and irrigation Nandagopal Bhattacharya raised an objection.

He reportedly told the meeting that the move had far-reaching consequences and should be first discussed at a meeting of the Left Front.

General secretary of the Citu-affiliated West Bengal State Electricity Board Workmen’s Union, Siddhartha Sen, said: “We had requested the CM that since the electricity act will be reviewed as part of the common minimum programme (being followed by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance in Delhi, which the CPM is supporting), it should not be implemented now. He has kept our request.”

The Citu leader also pointed out that the act does not address the issue of rural electrification properly. “It is very sketchy about rural electrification,” he said.

Industry sources said the Left Front government would not take any step now that will hurt the sentiments of rural Bengal.

The committee had suggested breaking the power board into two divisions that would independently handle transmission and distribution. The panel had also suggested the formation of two separate companies to handle the operations.

After the break-up, the West Bengal State Electricity Board will cease to exist.

The government set up the committee following the introduction of the Electricity Act, 2003. The act says generation, distribution and transmission operations of a power utility should be independent of each other so as to ensure efficient supply to the consumers.

The committee had said that the distribution company, which will be named West Bengal Distribution Corporation, will have five strategic business units. One of the five units will take care of hydel power distribution.

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