Sunday, February 27, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Dismantle SEBs: PM
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Feb 26 — Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee today said there was a need to dismantle monolithic state electricity boards (SEBs) as part of the reform and restructuring process in the power sector and encourage private sector participation in power generation, transmission and distribution.

Inaugurating a conference of the state Power Ministers’ here, Mr Vajpayee said the financial health of the country’s SEBs was bad as 18 of the 20 SEBs had a negative rate of return. ‘‘This continues to be a major concern for both the Union Government as well as the state governments’’, he remarked.

Speaking on the subsidies given to the power sector, the Prime Minister said experience has shown that subsidies do not work beyond a point. ‘‘On the contrary, they have not only affected the performance of the power sector but also resulted in unreliable and poor quality of electricity’’, he said. He felt consumers would much rather pay for reliable and quality power.

Hoping that the conference would agree on a blueprint for accelerated development of the power sector, the Prime Minister said the government was committed to strengthening the national power grid and delinking transmission and distribution from generation so that both reliability and quality of power to consumers could be ensured.

Mr Vajpayee pointed out that in order to meet the requirements of the new century, there was a need to add more than a lakh mw during the 10th and 11th Plans. To achieve this target, the country would need Rs 11 lakh crore, but the resources that were likely to be available would be about only a third of that amount.

He said the Union Government and the state governments have to jointly consider various options to mobilise resources to meet the gap. HP also listed several other areas that had been plaguing the power sector and holding back rapid capacity addition.

Mr Vajpayee said power and energy production as well as management was crucial to the country’s security concerns as a nation that was self-sufficient in power and not burdened by energy shortages, was a secure country.

Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister, Prem Kumar Dhumal told the conference the state government would constitute the State Electricity Regulatory Commission soon.

He urged the Centre to provide liberal assistance of Rs 350 crore to exactly map the remaining unsurveyed potential to prepare project reports of 7000 mw hydel potential of the state.

Mr Dhumal also urged the Centre to allow execution of 300 mw capacity projections through MoU route as competitive bidding route was extremely complicated, cumbersome and time consuming.

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