Special Correspondent

State walks away with top honours in power sector

`No compromise on free power'No tariff hike despite rising fuel prices `No compromise on free power'No tariff hike despite rising fuel prices

HYDERABAD: The Government has dedicated the trophy won by the power utilities in CRISIL-ICRA rating to the State's 1.69-crore consumers and announced that free power supply to farmers, concessional tariff to industries and existing facilities to others will continue.

This was announced by Energy Minister Mohd. Ali Shabbir on Wednesday after he and a team of senior officials showed Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy the trophy awarded to Andhra Pradesh for being adjudged best State in the power sector. The officials included Principal Secretary, Energy, A. K. Goel, CMD of AP Transco Rachael Chatterjee, CMD of AP Genco Ajay Jain and CMD of AP Southern Power Distribution Company P. Gopal Reddy.

The Minister said the Chief Minister was happy with the achievement that the State had secured CRISIL's top rating for a third year in row and wanted officials to maintain the trend. The achievement was a `fitting reply' to critics of free power supply to the farm sector.

Mr. Shabbir and Ms. Rachel Chatterjee attributed the achievement to teamwork.AP Transco, AP Genco and the four distribution companies could secure the highest score of 55.8 points in spite of six negative marks for free power supply and subsidies. This was because of the sterling performance on all fronts. Although fuel costs rose, there was no hike in tariff for four years. Moreover, the peak demand of 173 million units during rabi could be met without imposing major cuts. As a result, cropped area under rabi went up from 2.1 lakh to to 4.65 lakh hectares in Nizamabad and paddy production from 1.53 lakh to 6.5 lakh tonnes in Karimnagar district.