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June deadline for power board divide

Ranchi, April 18: Decks have been cleared for the unbundling of Jharkhand State Electricity Board (JSEB) in June first week, with the registrar of companies, under the ministry of corporate affairs, to divide it into four divisions.

A review meeting chaired by governor’s adviser Madhukar Gupta today confirmed the development, adding the first would be the mother or holding company.

The other three, its subsidiaries, will independently handle generation, transmission and distribution.

According to Electricity Act (2003) provisions, every state power board must have three separate utilities, each looking after generation, transmission and distribution.

Though the move comes 10 years late in Jharkhand, the JSEB mother company will supervise the functioning of three utilities.

The state through an affidavit assured Supreme Court that the process of unbundling JSEB would be completed soon and that the interests of existing JSEB employees, including post-retirement benefits, would not be hit.

“JSEB pension liabilities come to around Rs 1,300 crore. We have formed an employees’ welfare trust and deposited Rs 200 crore. We have taken care of pension liabilities even before formal unbundling process,” energy department principal secretary V.K. Singh said.

He added JSEB accounts had nearly been updated, while the opening balance of the proposed new firms would be worked out within a month.

On infrascture add-ons, Singh said necessary formalities would be complete by June 30 to set up two 660 MW power plant units at Patratu Thermal Power Station. “Once done, we will float request for quotations. A coal block is already available with the JSEB, which however needs to arrange water up to 37 million cubic meters.

“A 90-day rapid environment analysis to set up power plants began on March 1. Work is proceeding smoothly and we are eyeing the June 30 date. Power Finance Corporation Limited is the project consultant,” Singh added.

Patratu thermal power station, with 10 units, is not in the pink of health. Four units have been scrapped, two are producing 40 MW each while two others are producing 90-100 MW everyday, lower than their installed capacities of 110 MW each. Technical feasibility reports to revamp units VII and VIII are being analysed.

Singh, in reply to a question, confirmed the state was now giving Rs 156 crore every month to Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) for power supply. DVC’s total outstanding dues come to a whopping Rs 2,300 crore. “Modalities to settle old dues have been worked out. We have started paying DVC,” he added.