Jayalalithaa says corruption main reason for fall in power generation

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Wednesday promised steps to increase power generation by 5,000 MW, as mentioned in her party's election manifesto, but ruled out any revision of power tariff.

“Large-scale corruption in the TNEB [Tamil Nadu Electricity Board], especially in import of substandard coal, was one of the main reasons for fall in power generation,” she told a news conference at the Secretariat. Replying to a question, she said there was also a charge that power generation was drastically cut down in order to purchase electricity from private companies at exorbitant rates so that those in power received hefty commissions.

The previous government's lack of planning also led to a fall in power generation, she said. Of the different thermal units, one or the other had to be closed down for maintenance and the shutdown had to be staggered. There should not be a situation where all thermal units were shut down for maintenance. There was no planning and no organisation (in the previous government) and for many days there was no production at major thermal power stations that led to a fall in production.

No power cut then

Recalling that there was no power cut at all in her previous regime during 2001-06, she said customers were supplied quality, uninterrupted power round-the-clock then. At that time, the installed capacity was 10,111 MW. The State was producing power to the full installed capacity and was supplying surplus power to others, earning revenue as well.

Everything changed drastically after the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam formed the government, she said. Wrong management was the main reason for the fall in power generation.

Promising to root out corruption and meet the target of 5,000 MW as fast as possible, Ms. Jayalalithaa said the State would also try to exceed the target.

Asked whether the mounting debt burden of the TNEB would result in revision of power tariff, she said: “We are yet to examine all this. However, whatever the situation, we will not increase the burden on the people.”

To questions on continuation of the DMK government's schemes, the State's finances, the merger of Anna Universities of Technology and the fate of new Assembly complex, the Chief Minister said the answers could be found in the Governor's Address to be presented in the Assembly on Friday.

Free rice scheme launched

Earlier, Ms. Jayalalithaa launched the free rice distribution scheme at a fair price shop in Chennai. Under the scheme, a pre-election promise, 20 kg of rice will be given free every month to eligible card-holders, while a smaller group comprising the poorest among the poor will get 35 kg a month.