Saturday, October 20, 2001, Chandigarh, India



PSEB must survive for economic progress of State

Apropos of the report “PSEB faces financial blackout” (Oct 16), it is true that the situation is extremely critical and some emergency measures are necessary. Whenever I had the opportunity to interact with the Government, the media and the public, I have emphasised the importance of commercial thinking and orientation in the working of the PSEB. Power sector is the most critical sector after the defence of the country.

The power sector should be allowed to work on commercial lines. The focus of power reforms has to be on revamping the commercial structure and we have to introduce modern technologies which can create an on-line monitoring of the business parameters such as power generation, costing, T&D losses and revenue.

The solution of the financial problems of SEBs is simple i.e. the focus has to be on accounting and accountability of power. The energy accounting has to be at all stages of power business i.e. power generated, power received at the end of transmission lines, power measured along the power distribution system, power billed and revenue collected. The faster we can ensure this, the earlier will be the recovery of the financial health of the Board.

What prevents us from carrying out this simple looking process? There are many reasons which have been discussed and analysed in many forums and committees. The instrument which has to ensure the two mantras is the ‘energy meter’ which is responsible for the woes of power sector. This single instrument which is to measure energy at all stages of power business has played havoc with the power sector and it is still out of control.


In the PSEB the metered power is varying between 53 and 55 per cent. There is no accurate re-conciliation between the power generated, power received in the distribution system, power billed and revenue collection made. This is becoming more and more difficult since the number of consumers has been increasing by 8 to 10 per cent per annum. At present, the total number of consumers is about 53.5 lakh. Because of the huge size of business, energy accounting and accountability has to be taken over by technology i.e. electronic metering supported by extensive computerisation of the entire business.

When I took over the charge in January 2000, the situation was equally difficult. For 1999-2000, the revenue collection stood at Rs. 3890 crore which works out to approx Rs 10 crore per day. Many measures were initiated to start energy accounting during 2000-2001 e.g. process for change over to electronic metering (partly), extensive checking to minimise theft, signing of MoUs between Board and the zonal chief engineers, fixing targets for annual performance and introduction of computers. Although these steps were initiated, the results take time to be visible, since these are long-term processes. However, even preliminary work in this area resulted in an increase of 17 per cent (Rs 670 crore) in the revenue for 2000-2001. The revenue figure touched an all-time high of Rs 4560 crore approx. No doubt, about 6 per cent increase is due to tariff revision and about 2-3 per cent was due to government assistance.

These measures indicate that there is potential for significant improvement. The daily revenue collection which stood at Rs. 10 crore per day in April, 2000, now stands at more than Rs. 13 crore per day — an increase of Rs. 3 crore.

To improve the working and financial health of the PSEB, three major stake-holders of PSEB have to work in synergic manner: the PSEB management, administrative machinery and the political set-up has to synchronise their activities to ensure that the PSEB survives. It must survive so that the economy of the State makes the desired progress in the days to come. There is no other option.

G. S. SOHAL, Chairman, PSEB
(on leave)

 Fatal car rally

The tragedy that struck “Raid-de-Himalaya” car rally on October 12, killing two occupants of a car from Shimla is very shocking. A few days ago in a rally, a two-wheeler had met with an accident, killing its rider. In a hilly terrain, speed is fixed for common vehicles — these are challaned for over-speeding. To compete, the vehicles of rallies run at a very high speed. In such rallies, it is very important to maintain the balance of mind. The participants are, after all human beings.

To err is human. The vehicles are machines. Here men control machines. A bit of the mental failure meets the participant’s fate. Such rallies should not be allowed in difficult and hill terrains


A soft PM

Our national political command is very weak under Mr Vajpayee, who is very soft-hearted and of poetic nature. Such persons cannot take tough stands, especially in today's scenario when the world is in the grip of terrorism.

A strong leader can get much benefits for India in these days by pressuring the USA to ban Kashmiri terrorist organisations by not supporting the USA in their cause. I think a tough leader like Mr Jagmohan can deliver.


A dirty hotel

I visited Renuka Lake with my family on October 7, 2001, and stayed at Hotel Renuka Jee. We were given two semi-de luxe rooms, but the basic facilities such as telephone and T.V. as also the level of cleanliness were not up to the mark. Water supplied in the bathrooms was muddy and the sewerage was blocked. No cold water was available as the refrigerator was out of order. This is not expected of an HPTDC hotel.


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