Power cases in limbo
Ranchi, March 19: Jharkhand State Electricity Regulatory Commission (JSERC), functioning without a chairman for three months, put off hearing nearly two dozen listed cases today and gave powerlessness a new definition.
The power regulator needs at least two members to hear cases. But since the JSERC chairman retired in December 2012, it has been left with only one member (engineering) these past three months.
“In the absence of a quorum, hearings of cases listed for March has now been rescheduled from April 6 onwards. Barring SAIL-Bokaro Steel, we have received tariff-related petitions from Jharkhand State Electricity Board, Tenughat Vidyut Nigam Ltd, Jusco, Tata Steel, Damodar Valley Corporation and Tata Power,” T. Muni Krishnaiah, member (engineering) told The Telegraph.
JSERC boss Mukhtiyar Singh, retired IAS and former finance commissioner, retired on December 15, 2012, after turning 65. As per JSERC Act 2003, a chairman can serve till five years at the most or till he or she turns 65, whichever is sooner.
“The authority to recruit a chairman is vested with the state government and we can’t comment on it,” added the JSERC member (engineering).
The former government of Arjun Munda did try to scout for a new JSERC boss, though serious differences of opinion between the various coalition partners scuttled the project.
On January 8, 2013, Munda resigned after ally JMM pulled the rug from under his feet and reduced the BJP government to a minority. On January 18, President’s Rule was clamped in Jharkhand when none of the political parties could rustle up the required numbers to stake claim and form a government.
The matter of getting a new JSERC boss stayed unresolved.
Right now, the regulatory commission is biding time. It is scrutinising tariff petitions sent by power companies, asking for data to plug gaps and waiting for a new boss.
“We are doing the groundwork so that as soon as the post of JSERC chairman is filled, we can resolve all pending issues,” the JSERC member (engineering) stressed.
Marandi plea to PM
JVM chief Babulal Marandi has urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to prevent the likely appointment of chief secretary S.K. Choudhary, whose term ends on March 31, to the post of JSERC chairman.
In a letter today, Marandi said commission chief Mukhtiyar Singh’s term had already expired, arguing if Choudhary succeeds him it would be tantamount to obliging private players who had been given franchises to collect power dues.