Not hike but reforms needed to soaring power losses: KCSDS

Not hike but reforms needed to soaring power losses: KCSDS
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SRINAGAR: Kashmir Centre for Social and Development Studies (KCSDS) on Sunday expressed its deep concern over the “failure of authorities” to curb and control perpetuating and ever growing losses incurred in power sector which is taking a toll on overall economic development of the state.
The power losses are projected at whopping Rs 3572.14 Crores in the 2016-17 by the Power Development Department in its petition filed before J&K SERC for seeking revision in power tariff.
While reacting to the petition, KCSDS observed that the utility intends to collect additional Rs 506.02 Crores through proposed hike which even if approved by SERC shall leave 3066 Crores to be borne by the government through budgetary support. “The hike in power tariff cannot be the answer to curb power losses but these are long pending reforms which have the potential to bring down T&D losses apart from evacuation of power projects illegally and unconstitutionally under the control of NHPC will get down the power purchase bill,” a KCSDS statement said.
Opposing any hike and slab pattern in the domestic, commercial, industrial and agriculture tariff for both metered and un-metered consumers, KCSDS advocated for high tariff charges for other categories of consumers including state and central government departments who should be charged as per cost of supplies plus basis.
“The central government departments including defence and para-military establishments are exempted from payment of electricity duty otherwise charged from a poor common consumer and SERC should hike their tariff to cover such losses to the state,” the statement said.
KCSDS member, Shakeel Qalander, who made elaborate presentation before the J&K SERC on Saturday requested the commission to charge telecom companies for supply of electricity at par with government departments.
“Why should telecom companies who earn more than Rs 40 Crores a day for providing erratic services to the consumers of the state be provided electricity at subsidized rates,” observed Shakeel Qalander adding that no benefit of such facility is passed on by them to the consumers.
Qalander also sought distribution of electricity on uniform and equitable basis as it has been observed that the curtailment schedule announced by the department from time to time continued to be discriminatory despite clear directions by the commission on this account.
KCSDS questioned wisdom of the state government in seeking revision in the tariff in a period when people are reeling under the destruction wrought by unprecedented floods and even fraction of which has not been compensated.
“In such a situation the very thought of increasing tariff affecting people of the state is unwarranted to say the least,” the statement added.
In its comprehensive written objections, KCSDS refuted the claims of power development department to have been working towards bringing down the transmission and distribution losses which are on rise ever since the inception of regulatory commission in 2007-08 when these losses were 47%. It claimed that the “actual aggregate technical and commercial losses (AT&C) for past several years have been observed to be around 72% as the state realizes only 28% of the energy cost incurred by the department year on year accusing the department for manipulating figures to arrive at lesser percentage of losses”.
KCSDS sought improvement in the mechanism of power purchase which, if handled properly, can bring down the power purchase bill through various measures including cross verification of energy accounts. The power development department has projected purchase of power for 4858.87 Crores for the next year which needs utmost care and attention as power rates fluctuate every hour on line.
KCSDS also took a dig at the authority of J&K SERC for its failure to take appropriate action against the department for flouting its directives regarding implementing various reforms to reduce losses and improving operational efficiency besides acting on the duties responsibilities and service standards established by the commission.
The civil society group advocated for more teeth for the commission in order to protect the interests of the state as well as consumers in having access to safe, reliable and reasonably priced power.
“The total revenue requirements projected by PDD for the year 2016-17 are Rs 6384.34 Crores which includes Rs 4858.87 Crores on purchase of power; Rs 584.23 Crores on water usage charges; Rs 175.68 Crores on inter-state transmission charges; Rs 680.81 Crores on O&M expenses and Rs 117.37 Crores on other expenses. The department would be able to realize only Rs 2812.21 Crores at existing tariff rates leaving a revenue gap of Rs 3572.14 Crores which they propose to fill through hike and budgetary support from the government,” the statement further said.
The civil society while acknowledging the fact those losses in power take toll on the overall development of the state has envisaged for united efforts to bring down T&D losses to a level of 15% or less. “KCSDS is of strong belief that the purchase bill of power can drastically be reduced after the power projects illegally and unconstitutionally controlled by NHPC are returned to the state.”
“We have brought this issue in the public domain and now it is up to the people of the state to force state government for taking control of these projects for better future of our children,” Shakeel Qalander added.

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