Bhubaneswar, Jan. 18: Chief minister Naveen Patnaik’s announcement that Rs 1,650 crore will be spent to upgrade transmission, distribution and improvement of infrastructure in the power sector has raised eyebrows in the political sphere.
The state government has failed to spend 5 per cent of the money allocated under the Capital Expenditure Programme (Capex) to upgrade the power sector infrastructure in the past two years since the launching of the scheme.
Naveen had launched the scheme in 2010. The state government has earmarked Rs 2,400 crore to upgrade the transmission and distribution system. However, only Rs 100 crore have been spent so far.
Senior Congress leader Narasingh Mishra said: “Empty vessel sounds much. This is an election gimmick and the chief minister is trying to befool the people. People have already been aware of the difference between his commitment and deeds.”
Mishra further said that as the state was going to face a severe power crunch because of its failure to improve the system, Naveen had announced another programme to divert the attention of the people.
Yesterday, Naveen announced that Rs 1,650 crore would be pumped into the power sector in two years. The government will install 550 new 33KV/11KV grid sub-stations to improve power transmission. At present the state has 550 sub-stations.
Leading trade union leader working in the power sector Ramesh Satpathy said: “No visible improvement has taken place so far in the power sector during the last decade. The sector has been totally neglected. The announcement will only help Naveen Patnaik to organise more foundation laying ceremonies which he can attend.”
He further said that if the government really wanted to bring a change in the sector, it should immediately complete the work under Capex and invest at least Rs 10,000 crore.
Under the Capex programme, the state is committed to organise Rs 1,200 crore, including Rs 500 crore grant from the 13th Finance Commission. Distribution companies (Discoms) have to raise the remaining Rs 1,200 crore.
D.K. Choudhury, who is looking after the Capex programme for Cesu, said: “We have already brought materials worth over Rs 50 crore. The tender process has been finalised for other projects. In terms of expenditure, we are far ahead compared to other distribution companies.”
Citing the reason for delay in execution of the scheme, an official said they had to follow a transparent method, hence the delay.