Engineers want management handed over to professionals instead of bureaucrats

Even as the Akhilesh Yadav Government is yet to find a suitable person to head the Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation Limited (UPPCL), lying headless since the past one week following the transfer of the CMD, Navneet Sehgal, power engineers want the management of the Corporation to be handed over to professionals. The fresh demand by the power men has rekindled a decade-old technocrat-bureaucrat tussle for control of the Power Corporation.

The Joint Action Committee of UP Power Employees has urged Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav to abandon the existing practice and appoint specialist power engineers and professionals to man the power utility. Accusing the babus of bleeding the Power Corporation white, the joint action committee has argued that handing over the reins to professionals was necessary to improve the electricity supply position and revenue realization.

The UP Power Corporation has been running at a loss over the past decade when the erstwhile Uttar Pradesh State Electricity Board (UPSEB) was dismantled in 2000. In 2011-12, its loss according to the Joint Action Committee of Power Employees has been estimated at a whopping Rs.8000 crore. According to the Joint Action Committee, the Annual Revenue Requirement (ARR) of Rs.34,911 crore for the financial year 2012-13 was sent to the UP Electricity Regulatory Commission (UPERC) by the UPPCL management in October 2011 for the fixation of tariff.

The revenue realisation in the ARR has been estimated at Rs.21,910 crore.

“In the ARR the Government has admitted that the revenue gap, or revenue loss in the coming financial year will be around Rs.13,000 crore”, said Shailendra Dubey, Secretary General of All India Power Engineers Federation. The power engineers are of the opinion that the professionally managed companies in the power sector were not only running in profit but were competing globally. “If public sector companies like NTPC, NHPC ( National Hydel Power Corporation ), BHEL and Power Grid Corporation of India under professional management can stage a turnaround why cannot the UPPCL managed by professionals,” said Mr. Dubey. Even in the private sector where Tata and Reliance are the biggest players in the power sector key positions are held by engineers, the State power engineers have argued.

In the Mayawati regime, while the top post of the Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) of UP Power Corporation (a similar system was followed in the previous Samajwadi Party regime) was held by a bureaucrat, the management took the unprecedented step of appointing retired engineers. These retired engineers were appointed to important posts like power purchase, power system and the Centrally–funded Accelerated Power Development Reform Programme (APDRP). It was for the first time that retired engineers were appointed to regular posts, allegedly on a pick and choose basis.

Meanwhile, the decision of the Chief Minister to ensure uninterrupted power supply from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. throughout the State for the benefit of the students appearing in High School, Intermediate, CBSE and ICSE examinations has come as a welcome step. About 2,000 mega watts additional power would be purchased by the State for this purpose with Mr. Yadav stating that an expenditure of Rs.150 crore would be borne by the Government.

It has also been decided to ensure 24-hour power supply to Etawah (the home district of SP president Mulayam Singh and his family), Kannauj (the parliamentary constituency of Mr. Akhilesh Yadav) and Rampur (the home town of Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mohammad Azam Khan). Lucknow being the State capital too enjoys the privilege of 24-hour electricity supply.

  • UP Power Corporation has been running at a loss since the last decade

  • Loss in 2011-12 is Rs. 8000 crore, says action committee of employees