The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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‘Junior’ chief for JSEB sparks ire

Ranchi, Jan. 3: It is not often that a deputy general manager becomes a chairman. But the “unthinkable” happened in Jharkhand today when the chief minister appointed B.K. Pandey, a DGM rank officer in the NTPC, as the next chairman of the JSEB.

Pandey is posted in North Karnapura.

The Jharkhand Power Engineers’ Service Association, vehemently opposing Pandey’s candidature, has threatened to go on strike. Anticipating the move, the association had written to the chief minister and the energy secretary, saying they would be forced to go on strike if a “junior” functionary was appointed chairman. They have also filed a PIL in Jharkhand High Court.

A DGM in the NTPC happens to be equal to the rank of an executive engineer in the JSEB, it pointed out. Binay Kumar Sinha, president of the association, said a meeting would be held tomorrow to chalk out the future course of action. There are dozens of senior engineers within the JSEB who can take up the responsibility to head the board, he claimed before warning: “We will ensure that not a single bulb is lighted anywhere in the state if we are forced to go on strike.”

Jharkhand Power Workers’ Union general secretary Uday Shankar Verma also said disregarding experienced engineers for the top slot would go against the interests of the state. The union is also meeting on Thursday to chalk out its course of action.

JSEB has been without a full-time chairman since July 29, 2005, when the previous incumbent, H.B. Lal, resigned. Since then three IAS officers, namely P.P. Sharma, T. Nandkumar and Shivendu, have held additional charge as JSEB chairman. With even Shivendu having proceeded on long leave, the JSEB currently has one member (technical), G.N.S. Munda, to look after the affairs of the board.

The arrangement was a clear violation of the Electricity Act, 1948, which says that the board will consist of not less than three and not more than seven members appointed by the state government. The situation does not change even after Pandey’s appointment as chairman, the JSEB officials said.

Energy secretary Sudhir Tripathy said he had to obey the government’s orders.

Meanwhile, most parts of the state went without power on Thursday after generation plummeted to 280 MW against a peak time demand of over 800 MW.

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