The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Power-packed blow to govt

New Delhi, Aug. 27: “Philosophers have interpreted the world in many ways. The point is to change it,” said Karl Marx.

On Tuesday, Jagdish Sagar, former chairman of Delhi Vidyut Board, repeated the same sentence for the benefit of the power secretary and senior executives from the power sector and asked them to spell out solutions and not interpret the problems that beset the power sector.

Among the many unresolved issues in the power sector, one of the most intensely debated aspect relates to distribution sector reforms. Pitching into the debate were power secretary R.V. Shahi, Delhi power minister Ajay Maken, and PowerGrid chairman and managing director R.P Singh representing the government. Private operators were represented by Firdose Vandrevala, Jagdish Sagar who now heads the Tatas’ distco in Delhi and Harry Dhaul of Independent Power Producers Association of India (IPPAI).

The CNBC Industry Vector on the power sector held on Tuesday saw Gajendra Haldea, director, National Council for Economic Research (NCAER), and Delhi power minister Ajay Maken squabble over the time period required to complete the distribution reforms in the state. While Maken said it would take a minimum of five years to undertake the reforms, Haldea was confident that it could be completed in much lesser time.

The two participants who came out with a solution for reducing the ills of distribution were PowerGrid chairman and managing director R.P Singh and Alan Sedghi, president and managing director of SAP India. “The whole problem lies in the targeting the customers who are not being made accountable for the power consumed by them. About 5 per cent of the total consumers in any state consume the major part of the power and do not pay the full tariff. If they can be made accountable most of the ills of distribution can be resolved,” said R.P Singh.

According to Sedghi, the technology is available to reduce the distribution losses. The distribution companies in the US and Europe have undertaken distributions reforms using the latest management techniques. Maken was confident that the state would be able to bring down the losses due to distribution. “We will bring in the necessary legislation and also provide the support to private distcos to undertake power reforms and reduce losses due to distribution.”

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