The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Chhattisgarh on top of power ladder

Raipur, March 11: Chhattisgarh has become the country’s new “power hub” because of its surplus generation.

The state was once considered to be a tribal-dominated backward region of Madhya Pradesh, where chief minister Digvijay Singh announced an “egalitarian” cut in power supply across the state. Chhattisgarh — carved out in 2001 — is promising to cover half the demand-supply divide in the country.

Chhattisgarh, which earned a dubious distinction of being “anti-reforms” after the controversy over the disinvestment of Balco, has now thrown up several positive indicators such as a slash in the cost of administration.

The state government, which has no overdraft from the Reserve Bank of India, has maintained a cap of 38 per cent on all establishment expenditure as compared to nearly 100 per cent in Kerala and 80 per cent in Madhya Pradesh.

Moreover, Chhattisgarh has just six public sector undertakings restricted to social concerns.

The Chhattisgarh State Electricity Board is among the few in the country making profits and offering cheap pit-head power-generation opportunities. The National Thermal Power Corporation has started construction of its 2,640-mw Sipat super thermal plant and another 600-mw plant in Korba.

The Government of Gujarat is establishing a 500-mw generation plant in Korba. Delhi is also setting up a 600-mw plant at the same place.

According to chief minister Ajit Jogi, Chhattisgarh has the potential to produce up to 50,000 mw of power thanks to its huge coal reserves and the Hasdeo Bango reservoir. The state accounts for 84 per cent of India’s coal.

The 50,000 mw that Jogi hopes the state would generate one day would alone provide for 50 per cent of the country’s power requirement.

Speaking to The Telegraph, the chief minister sought to underplay Chhattisgarh’s success story. “My life’s endeavour is to remove the paradox of Chhattisgarh being the richest piece of earth yet home to people who are among the poorest,” he said.

Jogi said his government’s policy to let third-party sales to buyers with or without wheeling from the state power board and the state’s central location helped easy transmission to any part of the country. Today, Chhattisgarh’s power clients include Delhi, Gujarat, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Punjab.

The chief minister who made an unsuccessful bid to stall the sale of state-owned Balco to a private enterprise is now unwilling to talk about the past. He pointed at the Chhattisgarh Investment Promotion Act, 2002, which laid down statuary time limits for all clearances to be given by a single-point of investor contact.

Jogi has also been successful in offloading the Chhattisgarh State Intercity Transport System to the private sector as the undivided Madhya Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation was making huge loses.

The state now earns Rs 15 crore every year from license fees.

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