ANDHRA PRADESH

Ex-IAS officer denies role in power project pact

HYDERABAD, AUG. 1. The former IAS officer, P. Abraham, who was recently appointed Advisor (power) to the State Government, has denied any involvement in the finalisation of the power purchase agreement (PPA) of the Enron project in Maharashtra. He gave this clarification in light of criticism against him last week over his appointment not only as the Advisor but also as a member of a panel constituted to review PPAs in the State in view of his association with the Enron project.

Opposition members also held that his appointment was illegal since he had served as a member of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). The Constitution bars members of the commission from holding any post either at the Centre or in the State after completing their tenure.

Letter to YSR

Mr. Abraham stated his position in a letter to the Chief Minister, Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, on Saturday expressing pain over `baseless media reports' attributing him a role in signing these PPAs which caused losses to the Maharashtra Government.

Mr. Abraham said he was functioning as Additional Secretary, Ministry of Defence, and had nothing to do with the power sector either in the Government of Maharashtra or at the Centre during the entire period of 1991-94 when the PPA was negotiated and signed.

He had served as Chairman of the Maharashtra State Electricity Board (MSEB) from February 1989 to July 31, 1991. Later, on promotion, he joined the Government of India as Additional Secretary, Ministry of Defence. During his entire tenure as MSEB Chairman, the Centre did not permit establishment of power generation projects in the private sector and, therefore, the question of his association with the Enron project did not arise.

Appointment defended

A press release issued by the Chief Minister's Office on Sunday, giving details of his association with the energy sector in various capacities ever since 1969, justified Mr. Abraham's appointment because of his vast experience and expertise.

Without referring to his stint in the UPSC, the release said: "Keeping in view certain legal implications, the matter was referred to legal experts. Appropriate decision will be taken basing on legal advice."

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