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Energy dept rushes to complete JSEB split

Ranchi, Dec. 29: The state energy department and Jharkhand State Electricity Board (JSEB) are racing against time to meet the December 31 deadline for unbundling of the power utility.

The state would miss out on a Rs 4,000 crore financial restructuring package approved by the Union power ministry for revival of the JSEB, if it fails to complete the unbundling process latest by December 31.

The state government had given its nod to split JSEB into four separate entities in June this year. But, the plan ran into rough weather after power employees’ unions threatened to thwart any such move if their interests were not protected.

However, in a recent missive that reached the state energy department on December 26, the Union power ministry has threatened to withhold the restructuring package, putting the state government on an overdrive to beat the December 31 deadline.

A special meeting of JSEB board of directors has been convened tomorrow to adopt a formal proposal for unbundling of the utility.

According to the plan, JSEB would be divided into four entities — Jharkhand Vidyut Vikas Nigam Limited, Jharkhand Vidyut Utpadan Nigam Limited, Jharkhand Vidyut Vitaran Nigam Limited and Jharkhand Vidyut Sancharan Nigam Limited.

The JSEB board of directors will send their resolution to the state cabinet for approval.

The state cabinet is also likely to hold a special session tomorrow to approve the JSEB unbundling. Sources revealed that once the state cabinet gave its nod, a formal notification would be issued, which would be sent to the Union power ministry.

JSEB chairman S.N. Verma confirmed the development and said a failure to meet the deadline would cause huge financial losses to the state.

According to him, five major power unions — Jharkhand Power Engineering Service Association, Vidyut Diploma Abhiyanta Sangh, Vidyut Sramik Sangh, Power Accounts Service Association and Vidyut Prashasanik Sangh — have already given their assent in writing for unbundling of JSEB.

“But, two other unions are still holding out. Talks are underway and we hope to resolve the deadlock very soon. We have assured all employees that their service conditions, pay and allowances and retirement benefits will be fully protected under the new dispensation. There is no cause for worry,” Verma told The Telegraph.

Earlier this month, the Union power ministry cleared a Rs4,000-crore financial restructuring package for JSEB, allowing the utility to convert 50 per cent of its accumulated dues to Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC), Coal India subsidiaries and Tenughat Vidyut Nigam Limited (TVNL) into bonds.

At the same time, the remaining 50 per cent of JSEB’s liabilities would be taken over by the state government. Also, the Centre has agreed to reimburse 25 per cent of the Rs2,000-crore burden of the state government in this regard.