90 p.c. tariff hike is the lone option: Minister

PATHANAMTHITTA, JUNE 16. The Electricity Minister, Mr. Kadavoor Sivadasan, has said that a power tariff hike, by at least 90 per cent of the existing rates, appears to be the lone option before the Government to tide over the Kerala State Electricity Board's (KSEB) financial crisis.

Addressing a `Meet-the-Press' programme of the Pathanamthitta Press Club today, the Minister said the KSEB is in dire straits with a debt of Rs. 160 crores on account of the power purchased from the Kayamkulam thermal power plant and the diesel power plants at Brahmapuram and Kozhikode.

According to him, the total loss of the KSEB has been estimated at Rs. 143 crores and this may necessitate a steep hike in the power tariff to run the Board. He, however, said the KSEB would not recommend to the Government a power tariff hike. The

Government would take a decision on its own after feeling the pulse of the people.

Though the commissioning of `uneconomic' thermal and

diesel power plants had brought forth some sort of `high spirits' in the power sector, the high cost of thermal power purchased from the National Thermal Power Corporation's (NTPC) Kayamkulam plant has cost the KSEB dearly. When the KSEB purchases power at the rate of Rs. 4.50 a unit from the NTPC's Kayamkulam plant, it has to sell it for 45 paise a unit, he said.

Mr. Sivadasan said that hydel power projects are more suited and cost-effective to the geographic and socio-economic conditions of the State and the UDF Government would explore the viability of setting up more mini and macro hydel projects in different parts of the State.

The Minister expressed concern over the objections raised by certain eco groups against setting up new hydel projects in the State on `flimsy' grounds.

On the recent electrocution of four wild elephants in the Goodrickal forest range of the Ranni forest division, the Minister said that to his knowledge, there was no fault on the part of the KSEB officials. A detailed report on the incident has been sought from the KSEB authorities and strict action would be taken if any one is found guilty.

Mr. Sivadasan said there is no question of privatising the State's power sector and the KSEB would try its level best to minimise the transmission loss which is estimated at 17.5 per cent.