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SEBs are in poor shape: Sayeed

Special Correspondent

MUMBAI: The Union Power Minister, P.M. Sayeed, said on Saturday that about one lakh MW additional generation capacity was planned with the objective of "Power for All" by 2012. Calling for a turnaround in the power sector, he said generation capacity, distribution reforms and rural electrification were the topmost priority for the Central Government.

Mr. Sayeed was addressing the media after releasing a report on the performance of the State power sectors in India. He said in the Tenth Plan about 41,110 MW will be added and of this projects for 37,000 MW were already under way.

While the power sector recorded a 6.2 per cent growth in 2004-2005, this could have reached 8.5 per cent if the country had enough gas and coal supplies, according to the Union Power Secretary, R.V. Shahi.

Mr. Shahi told reporters that 15 billion units of gas and three billion units of coal-based power could not be produced due to shortage.

This year the country is already facing a shortage of 15-20 million tonnes of coal. In 2003-04, the power sector recorded a growth of 5.1 per cent.

Mr. Sayeed said the financial health of the state electricity boards has become a matter of concern and the core problem is the poor state of sub-transmission and distribution system. The gap between revenue realisation and cost of supply could be tackled by bringing about reforms in the distribution sector, he said. About 25 per cent of the generation is lost in theft.

Reforms

While the Power Ministry had taken a number of steps to usher in reforms, 10 States were seeking time for unbundling of electricity boards and had sought an extension beyond June 10, 2005.

He said legal opinion would have to be sought if these States have to be granted extension. Mr. Sayeed also refused to comment on the Enron issue and the revival of the Dabhol power plant.

"We intend to see that the power project starts functioning soon and all concerned are working towards an amicable settlement, " he said.

As a member of the Empowered Group of Ministers headed by Defence Minister, Pranab Mukherjee, he said he could not say anything at this stage.

The state electricity boards had to take the lead in improving their commercial viability by enforcing efficient performance of the distribution sector.

The Accelerated Power Development and Reform Programme (APDRP) was launched in 2001 and would cover the country in the next three to five years to upgrade sub-transmission and distribution network.

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