The decision of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs to fund the restructuring of the State Electricity Boards is timely. Reforms in the power sector have been long overdue. Almost all SEBs have been in the red for years, incurring heavy losses mainly because of the reluctance of the State governments to periodically revise the tariff. Inefficiency, pilferage, misuse of free power to agriculture for commercial activities and organised power theft by industrial consumers in connivance with the Board officials are common. All State governments should put in place independent regulatory authorities to monitor the functioning of the SEBs and review the power tariff periodically.
Mismanagement and rampant corruption are responsible for power cuts ranging from six to 14 hours a day in many States. The situation is particularly bad in villages. Efficient management of electricity by categorising consumption as agricultural, industrial and domestic has made Gujarat a State with surplus power. Even Chhattisgarah and Jharkhand, described as backward, have managed the power front efficiently. But in Andhra Pradesh, the ruling Congress is busy squabbling. The Chief Minister spends most of his time trying to protect his seat. Where is the time for him and his government to attend to the power problem?
Karavadi Raghava Rao,
The CCEA’s debt recast package would be a resuscitating move for the asphyxiated discoms. The package will increase power tariff but is needed to rescue the discoms and bridge the gap between supply and demand. One hopes the State governments will utilise the opportunity without politicising the issue.
M.S. Mallik Reddy,
Keywords: State Electricity Boards, State Electricity Regulatory Commission, Central Electricity Authority, power tariffs, power reforms, power distribution companies, Union Power Ministry, State Electricity Distribution Responsibility bill