| UDP legislators and party members stage a demonstration on Tuesday to protest against power cuts in the state. Picture by UB Photos |
Shillong, April 29: Meghalaya chief minister today pulled up “cash-strapped” Meghalaya Energy Corporation Limited (MeECL) and said it should perform like a corporate body and be smart and efficient enough to become a profit-making organisation.
The state government, through the power department, is also making a detailed study to find out deficiencies of the state-owned public sector undertaking (PSU), which led to its failure to become a profit-making organisation and suggest ways and means to correct the shortcomings.
“Certain measures should be adopted to make it sustainable. Though MeECL is a government company, it should behave like a corporate body and be smart and efficient to bring down distribution and transmission losses,” Sangma said.
He also said the MeECL cannot be forgiven for losses it incurred because of inefficiency.. The chief minister said this time the government would support the MeECL not as a grant but in the form of a loan.
“MeECL and the state government are separate entities and every amount the government spends has to be accounted for. The inefficiency of MeECL eats into the government’s exchequer and economy of the state as well as derails development programmes,” Sangma said.
Neepco owes a debt of nearly Rs 300 crore to MeECL, which it failed to clear. Power supply to Meghalaya by Neepco had been stopped since last year, which caused the state to face severe power crisis this year during this dry season.
The chief minister said MeECL has been asked to explain its failure to implement measures which will help it to become a profit-making PSU. On the reason which brought a loss to MeECL because of power purchase, Sangma said MeECL should have also utilised technologies to make it much more efficient and help bring down losses on transmission and distribution of power to the consumers.
While the Opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) organised a sit-in today demanding that the government take immediate steps to restore regular power supply, the chief minister asked the Opposition not to take political posturing.
“This is not the time to take political posturing on the issue. Instead the UDP should give suggestions if they have better ideas regarding remedial measures,” Sangma said. The chief minister even blamed the UDP-led government in 2008-09 that it had negated decisions taken by the Congress-led government in 2007 to implement a number of power projects in the state. Sangma also said this year the crisis was more because of various factors, including the impact of global warming.
However, Sangma claimed that his government has taken steps to address the problem for both short term and long terms. “For short term, the government will provide some amount of money to the MeECL to pay the power dues so that Neepco resumes power supply to the state,” Sangma said. Neepco had asked MeECL to pay at least Rs 50 crore. However, the state government and MeECL are negotiating with Neepco to accept a lesser amount. Sangma said the state was not begging for power from Neepco but it was the central PSU’s duty to comply when the state is in crisis because it is a corporation established for the purpose of catering to the Northeast.
For long-term measures, Sangma said the government has to explore the possibility of having a thermal plant, apart from hydro projects. “The progress of all power projects already on the stage of development would be reviewed every three months,” the chief minister said. There are hydro projects like Kynshi stage-I and Kynshi stage-II in West Khasi Hills allotted to private companies on joint venture few years ago but the progress on the project was slow.
The state government has also asked Neepco to execute the Mawphu hydel project in East Khasi Hills and thermal project in the Garo hills. According to the chief minister, Neepco has been asked to come up with a fresh proposal to execute the power project wherever feasible, apart from the already proposed Selim hydro project in the Jaintia hills and another project along the Meghalaya-Assam border.