The Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) is trying to comply with the Kerala State Electricity Regulatory Commission (KSERC)’s directive to cut costs through staff redeployment but berths provided to those on deputation from various departments may hinder the efforts and impose additional financial burden, sources say.

Following the board’s demand for a steep power tariff hike to meet the rising cost on various fronts, the commission had given directions for a 30 per cent cut in employee cost so that the financial burden passed on to the consumers could be mitigated to some extent.

Sources told The Hindu here that one of the suggestions was a thorough redeployment of staff in those segments where networking has been completed. This suggestion was also mooted as part of the austerity measures recommended for the board. But this does not match well with the current situation where a number of senior positions are being manned by officers on deputation. These include, among others, the posts of Finance Member, board Secretary, Joint Secretary, and Deputy Secretary (Law), two Regional Concurrent Audit Officers, a Superintendent of Police, and two Deputy Superintendents of Police who constitute the vigilance wing.

According to a modest estimate, the board is expending about Rs.20 lakh to meet the salary and other expenses of the officers on deputation. All such posts can be filled using the board’s manpower, sources say. The board has its own qualified legal personnel, audit officers, and an anti-power theft squad headed by a Deputy Chief Engineer. A number of employees will move out of the headquarters in a month as part of the redeployment initiative, sources say.

The board had informed the commission that its financial position was precarious and banks were not willing to lend financial support to the power sector. It spends Rs.770 crore a month for power purchase and the monthly loss had been pegged at Rs.200 crore. This warrants an urgent initiative to contain costs, they say.