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Nod to power utility’s revival plan

- Centre, state to share 50 per cent liabilities of cash-strapped JSEB

Ranchi, Dec. 22: The Union power ministry has cleared a financial restructuring package worth Rs 4,000 crore for Jharkhand State Electricity Board (JSEB), paving the way for a complete turnaround of the state-owned utility.

Under the restructuring package approved earlier this month, JSEB will be allowed to convert 50 per cent of its accumulated dues to Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC), Coal India subsidiaries and Tenughat Vidyut Nigam Ltd. (TVNL) into bonds.

The remaining 50 per cent will to be taken over by the state government, which will issue special securities and assume the responsibility for payment of the principal and interests.

This apart, the Centre will reimburse 25 per cent of the liability taken over by the state.

“This is a major achievement that will ensure a complete turnaround of the state electricity board. JSEB’s unpaid dues to DVC and TVNL for power purchases and to CIL subsidiaries for coal supplies aggregate to Rs 4,000. Under the restructuring package approved by the Union ministry, Rs 2,000 crore is to be converted into bonds issued by JSEB in favour of DVC, TVNL and CIL subsidiaries. The bonds will be backed by adequate guarantees by the state government. The state government will take the responsibility of paying up the remaining Rs 2,000 crore,” JSEB chairman S.N. Verma told The Telegraph.

According to the original plan, the electricity board’s dues to banks and other financial institutions were to be converted into bonds.

“JSEB has not taken any loans from banks or any other financial institutions for purchase of coal and power. We have no dues to banks. JSEB’s liability merely comprises unpaid bills. So, as a special case, the Union power ministry has allowed JSEB to convert 50 per cent of its unpaid bills into bonds,” Verma revealed.

Now, the power board, in consultation with the state energy department, will draw up a detailed restructuring plan and will send it to the state Cabinet for its nod.

Also, the power utility is taking steps to increase revenue collection to stand on its own feet.

Currently, JSEB’s monthly collections stand at Rs. 240 crore, up from Rs 147 crore in 2011.

It is planning to raise collections to an all time high of Rs.300 crore a month.

“Increased revenues will ensure better services and maintenance and enable us to undertake major capital renovations and modernisation of our ageing power plants,” the JSEB chairman pointed out.

To prevent power thefts, meters have been installed at all distribution transformers throughout the state.

A data centre has also been set up in Ranchi to keep tabs on all meters installed at transformers and at the consumers’ end.

JSEB engineers have been made accountable for any difference in the quantum of power supplied and the number of units for which bills have been raised on consumers. Manual meter reading has been completely done away with.

“The JSEB data centre at Kusai, Doranda, Ranchi, is expected to be fully operational by March next year. We have already installed 30 Any Time Payment (ATP) machines in different cities of the state. Orders for 30 more such machines have been placed,” Verma said.

These kiosks are operational from 10am to 8pm every day and consumers can pay their monthly bills in cash, or by means of cheque, bank draft or even through their credit cards.

“Once the data centre becomes operational, consumers will be able to pay bills online,” the JSEB chief stressed.