KERALA

Two DA instalments for KSEB employees

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, FEB. 26. The Electricity Minister, K. Muraleedharan, on Thursday announced payment of two instalments of dearness allowance (5 per cent) to the employees and pensioners of the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB).

In his maiden official press conference, Mr. Muraleedharan confirmed that there would be no hike in power tariff this year while load-shedding would continue.

The Minister said four instalments of dearness allowance (11 per cent) were due to the employees on the basis of orders issued by the Government. Granting of two instalments of DA would mean a monthly outgo of Rs. 1.35 crores for the Board.

The arrears from March 2003 would come to about Rs. 58.79 cores. Of this, Rs. 49.76 crores would be merged with the Provident Fund accounts of the employees. The balance, due to the pensioners, would be paid in six instalments.

He said that tariff hike would not be necessary this year, as the State Government would be paying the amount due to the Board. The Finance Minister, K. Sankaranarayanan, had stated that the Government would immediately release Rs. 200 crores.

He said the Government was not thinking of discontinuing the load-shedding. It saved one million units a day and Rs. 9 crores to Rs. 10 crores a month for the Board. However, there would be no load-shedding from March 7 until the end of the SSLC examinations.

He said the Government was in favour of maintaining status quo with regard to the structure of the Board. It would take the question of unbundling the Board once again with the Centre. The time limit prescribed for bifurcation of the operations of the Board was June. The asset valuation of the Board had been completed for the purposes of bifurcation. It came to more than Rs. 4,000 crores. Consultants were still working on a formula for devolution of the liabilities.

He said the State could not take a stand opposed to the directives of the Centre regarding bifurcation of the Board. The Board would lose assistance from the Centre if it did so.

He said the Board had not abandoned the Kuriarkutty-Karappara Project. However, the project could be taken up by the Board only if the Water Resources Department was prepared to share the costs. Otherwise, the unit cost of electricity produced would be Rs. 8.

The project cost, he noted, would be Rs. 550 crores. Besides, the Board would have to bear the cost of compensatory afforestation of 747 hectares of forests needed for the project. So, the Power Department would be asking the Water Resources Department to share the costs as the project could solve drinking water shortage in Kozhinjampara and nearby areas of Palakkad district.

He said that the construction of the Madurai-Thiruvananthapuram 400 KV line would be completed by the end of May. Delay had occurred in the work on the Kerala side owing to compensation claims.

The chairman of the Board, T. M. Manoharan, was also present at the press conference.