Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Tuesday, Mar 26, 2002
Industry & Economy
NTPC move to cut power supply to Kerala -- It's illegal, says Minister
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, March 25
THE State Government has taken strong exception to the move by the National Thermal Power Corporation to cut power supply to the State from the Ramagundam super thermal station and from the eastern region.
The corporation has notified that in the wake of non-payment of arrears, Kerala's share of 245 m.w. from Ramagundam and 98 m.w. from the eastern region will be allocated to Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry.
The Electricity Minister, Mr Kadavoor Sivadasan, said in a statement here on Sunday that the NTPC notification does not have any legal basis and that the powers to take such a decision is vested with the Southern Regional Load Despatch Centre (SRLDC).
If SRLDC were to take a decision on the issue, it has to serve a 15-day notice on the State Electricity Board. And the Board is entitled to approach the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) if the decision of SRLDC is unacceptable to it, the Minister said.
On top of it all, there are High Court and Supreme Court to look into the issue. When such constitutional methods are in existence, the NTPC notification amounts to showing disrespect to the country's legal system, he said.
Besides, there have to be discussions between the State and the Union Governments on such important matters, which affect the people. It being so, the NTPC notification in effect has ignored the basic tenets of Centre-State relations under the country's federal set-up, Mr Sivadasan said.
He pointed out that the State has been regularly paying for the power from Ramagundam and the eastern region. The arrears are on account of the power purchased from the Kayamkulam station. However, there are no terms or conditions in the contract with Kayamkulam, linking it with the power from Ramagundam and the eastern region.
The Minister noted that Kerala had agreed, along with other States, which have totted up arrears, to securitise the arrears due to Kayamkulam power and NTPC had accepted it. Accordingly, the State Government and the Electricity Board have begun working on the necessary procedures, he added.
Meanwhile, after a long respite, Kerala is facing the threat of extended periods of daily power shutdown with the NTPC hardening its stand
as the accumulated dues have exceeded Rs 1,000 crore.
As on December 31, 2001, KSEB's outstanding dues to NTPC stood at Rs 965.90 crore. In early January this year, the corporation had written to KSEB warning that it would be forced to regulate power supply to the State unless the mounting arrears were settled without further delay.
According to officials, if NTPC finally cuts off the supply, KSEB will be forced to resort to State-wide daily power-cut of not less than three hours.
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