The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bengal power board charts turnaround plan

Calcutta, Oct. 8: The West Bengal State Electricity Board has submitted an ambitious plan for turning around by 2004-05 to the Union power ministry as part of the power sector reforms.

The power utility, which suffers an average annual loss of Rs 800 crore, has drawn up a five year business plan for the period 2002-07. Under the plan, the utility expects to come out of the red in 2004-05.

As part of the plan, WBSEB would cut down losses by Rs 300 crore this fiscal while another Rs 300 crore would be reduced during next year, the sources said. “We aim to wipe out the remaining Rs 200 crore losses in 2004-05 so that it can make a turnaround and start making profits,” they said.

WBSEB has entered into a memorandum of agreement with the Union power ministry to undertake a time-bound reforms programme. The board, which has 40 per cent transmission and distribution losses, has taken up a “two-pronged strategy” of reducing power theft and making 100 per cent meter reading, billing and collection to achieve the targets.

Out of the 40 per cent T&D losses, about 21.9 per cent are technical losses and the rest 17.3 per cent are non-technical losses. The non-technical losses may be caused by un-metered supply owing to defective meters and primarily due to pilferage.

The West Bengal Electricity Regulatory Commission has allowed the WBSEB 30 per cent T&D losses for the year 2000-01 with a clear direction of a 2.5 per cent reduction every year and accordingly the admissible T&D losses for the current year would be 27.5 per cent.

“We have initiated steps to reduce both technical and commercial losses and increase recovery. With the state government coming out with a stringent legislation against power theft, we are trying to reduce such losses to a minimum,” WBSEB chairman G. D. Gautama said. He said that since July 15, WBSEB has booked 7,835 cases under the new Act and filed 536 FIRs, while 167 persons have been arrested.

Moreover, it has decided to realise electricity charges at twice the normal rates from any Puja committee which draws more power than the declared load. Electricity charges shall be realised from the Puja committees on the basis of metered consumption in conjunction with commercial tariffs.

Unmetered supply may be resorted to in cases where single point metering is not technically feasible. In case of such supply, the Puja committees shall have to pay at the rate of Rs 75 per kilowatt of the declared load per day for the full period of consumption, to be adjusted against the energy bill.

For metered supply, an additional security of Rs 1,500 shall be realised towards the cost of the meter besides the adequate advance amount towards the cost f energy assessed on the basis of the declared connected load.

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