Thursday, January 4, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

States overloading grid
Centre for more powers to SERCs
From S. Satyanarayanan and Gaurav Choudhury
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Jan 3—The Centre today squarely blamed the state governments for over-dependence on grid supply for meeting their “normal” power requirements and came down heavily on State Electricity Regulatory Commissions (SERCs) for being “ornamental”.

“States should learn the right lesson from yesterday’s total blackout. Over-dependence by states on Centrally transmitted power may lead to similar breakdowns in future," the Union Power Minister, Mr Suresh Prabhu, categorically told The Tribune.

Every State Government should seek to meet at least 80 to 90 per cent of their total power requirements through their own sources of generation and the grid should be primarily used for meeting minimal demand-supply mismatches, Mr Prabhu said.

“Several states have been talking about power sector reforms, but most of these remain only on paper,” the Power Minister regretted, observing that speedy implementation of reforms only could usher in the much-needed investment for modernisation of the power sector in the country.

“What happened yesterday was symptomatic of the direly needed radical reforms at the state level to attract investments for technological changes”, he explained.

The Union Power Minister also came down heavily on the SERCs for not fulfilling the primary task of tariff fixation. “The tariff structure in the country so far has been so ambiguous that the SERCs have failed to address this critical issue,” he said.

Without naming any state government for the abysmal state of affairs in the power sector, Mr Prabhu said, “Most of the SERCs are ornamental in nature, providing employment to people without any office.”

Emphasising that SERCs were originally intended to be quasi-judicial organisations, the Minister insisted that they should be vested with proper powers and the executive should be made accountable.

“If the state governments show their sincerity towards reforms the Centre will be more than willing to lend the required support to carry the reforms process forward”, Mr Prabhu said.

The Union Minister, who personally supervised the restoration operation yesterday, said that “even now it is not too late for the states to realise the magnitude of the problem and show larger commitment to reforms.”

“They should not wait for another collapse to occur”, he cautioned and criticised the loud talk about reforms only when a major crisis besets the country.

“The objective of reforms should be to provide quality power to the common consumer”, the Minister emphasised.

The Minister said that he had recently convened a meeting of state Power Ministers and the next step was to enter into MoUs with state governments for power sector reforms.

The Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, had “met me today and the Centre would sign an MoU for power sector reforms with the State Government sometime next week,” he said.

The Minister also stressed that the States should take adequate steps to prevent power theft and transmission and distribution losses to save precious power and also to earn extra revenue.

“The Transmission and Distribution (T&D) systems in most of the States needs complete overhaul”, Mr Prabhu said, adding this was resulting in a loss of Rs 40,000 crore annually.

The T&D systems in most of the states were grossly overloaded. Although, official figures indicate overall T&D losses of around 18 to 23 per cent, actually T&D losses in many states in the northern region were much higher varying from 38 to 50 per cent or so.

A large percentage of these losses could be attributed to rampant theft/pilferage of power which is camouflaged either under the unmetered agricultural consumption or under T&D losses in the various states.


Power supply still erratic
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Jan 3—After more than 24 hours of hectic restoration exercise following collapse of the Northern Grid yesterday, normal power supply could not be restored completely in the north Indian states today even as the Central Government claimed “total restoration” of supply from the Northern Grid.

“The power situation in all northern states is back to normal with the grid functioning normally to resume regular supply of 16,000 mw of power”, Union Power Minister, Mr Suresh Prabhu, told The Tribune.

Although rail and air traffic limped back to normalcy, people in many residential areas in the National Capital Region and its adjoining places had to bear heavy load-shedding.

The Power Ministry had received feedback from the State Electricity Boards (SEBs) regarding normal supply of power, Mr Prabhu said.

The grid started normal supply of power of 16000 mw since 10 am today and the peak hour requirements were successfully met, the Minister claimed.

About the probe into yesterday’s total blackout of the northern region, Mr Prabhu said, “Disciplinary action would follow soon after the probe committee set up under the Chairmanship of Central Electricity Authority (CEA) Chairman, Mr R.N. Srivastava submits its report within a week’s time.”

“The Government would not hesitate to take punitive measures if need be”, the Minister said, adding that a meeting of the Heads of all the Regional Load Dispatch Centres had been convened next week to evaluate the situation in the light of yesterday’s breakdown.

“The remedial measures would broadly be three-fold focussing on technical, legal and organisational restructuring of the existing system”, Mr Prabhu said.

He said that the CEA had been asked to submit the report within a week envisaging the reasons which caused the major power disruption yesterday and prescribe ways and means to prevent such crisis in the future.

However, despite the normal supply of Northern grid, distribution of power is yet to reach the normal level and it may still take several hours before regular distribution is restored, sources said.

Contrary to the government’s claim, several areas in the National Capital Region reported erratic power supply for the most of today.

All states had complained of water crisis, halting of rail operations and disruption of health care and telephone service yesterday after the failure of the Grid.

In Delhi, there was power shortage of about 1500 mw today as fog conditions and cleaning of reactors affected generation from gas-based power units, the sources said.

According to Power Grid Corporation and National Thermal Power Corporation sources, though there is no restriction from the Grid, states have the lagged effect in drawing the power to the normal level.Back

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