Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Feb 23:
Despite the fact that private power distribution companies (discoms) have fleeced both the government and consumers with impunity, the Odisha government is reluctant to act against Reliance Energy Ltd (REL), the owner of three out of the four discoms.
Forget taking power distribution away from the company, the government is not even willing to subject it to an independent audit and has sought to pass the buck to the Centre instead.
It may be recalled that Leader of Opposition Narasingha Mishra, while raising the issue in the State Assembly on February 11, had demanded cancellation of the license of the three discoms—Nesco, Weso and Southco— and collection of pending dues from the REL by throwing it out of the power distribution in the state.
Besides, Mishra had also demanded a CAG audit of these three discoms and a white paper on the status of the energy sector in the state.
However, the state government has not yet responded to the demand for collection of power dues from REL and a white paper.
The Energy department has admitted that power distribution in the state is in a shambles at it has become very old. While the number of power consumers in the state has gone up three times the number 15 years ago, the mode of power distribution remains the same.
Besides, REL, which had promised to invest in modernisation and upgradation of the power distribution infratsructure in the state while signing the MoU with the government, has not spent a paisa on this count so far, leaving the power distribution network in tatters.
While the state government has started strengthening the power distribution network from its own resources, the REL has managed to obtain an order from the Tribunal for collection of Rs 4200 crore power dues from the consumers citing losses in the AT & C (Aggregate Technical and Commercial).
Though the state government had announced that it would move the Supreme Court against the order of the Tribunal, it has not uttered a single word on how it proposes to bail out the consumers from paying the hefty amount.
It now remains to be seen whether the state government would share the burden of the consumers by paying the said amount or would ask them to pay in case the apex court upholds the verdict of the Tribunal.
As per the estimate by the Energy department, power tariff would go up by Rs 5 per unit if the order of the Tribunal is implemented.