Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Thursday, Jul 18, 2002
Industry & Economy
Kerala Govt warns erring KSEB officials
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, July 17
THE Kerala Electricity Minister, Mr Kadavoor Sivadasan, has said that the State Government would not hesitate to pack off erring officials of Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) who have been found consistently creating hurdles in the way of the time-bound implementation of power projects.
The Minister's warning came during question hour in the State Assembly in response to criticism from the Opposition for his open outburst at KSEB officials during a conference held recently.
The Opposition sought to allege that the Minister's ill-timed reprimand had affected the morale of the officialdom.
In his reply, the Minister maintained that he was distraught by the attitude shown by certain officials while dealing with projects.
He recalled the fact that the Kerala High Court itself had pulled up some of these officials, stating that they did not "pay heed to the Government, had disobeyed the law and showed scant respect for the courts''.
Dwelling on the theme further, Mr Sivadasan said that the Kuttiadi Augmentation Scheme had been delayed by over 15 years merely because of the cynicism perpetrated by some officials who raised lame excuses and unnecessary objections in the way of the smooth implementation of the project.
"There is this amusing case of one officer who had allowed a tender to gather moss under his table for 19 long months without ever caring to open it.''
Both the current and the previous Governments have been earnestly promoting the cause of a number of power projects with Chinese assistance.
But, again, a bunch of "troublesome" officials were quick to seize the opportunity in raising whatever objections they could conjure up.
"The Electricity Board is an industrial establishment; if found compulsively necessary, those officials who create problems would be sent out from service,'' Mr Sivadasan stated unambiguously in the House.
Earlier, the Minister defended the decision to enhance the electricity meter hire charge.
Over the years, KSEB has run up a revenue deficit of Rs 1,400 crore and it could not hope to work on charity, according to him.
The enhanced meter hire charge, which is expected to fetch Rs 50-60 crore in additional revenue, would scarcely be able to bridge this yawning gap between income and expenditure.
No power crisis: Replying to another question, Mr Sivadasan said that the apparent failure of the first phase of the South-West Monsoon had led to a situation where the same-day water level in the Idukki reservoir - the main barometer for hydel generation and the State's staple - was lower than in previous years.
The current reservoir capacity was sufficient to generate only 476.42 million units, equivalent to only 50 days' requirements.
Steps are being taken to get more power from the thermal stations and the Central pool.
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