NEW DELHI

'Power situation in a mess'

NEW DELHI MAY 22. Nearly an year after power distribution in the Capital was handed over to two private players -- BSES and Tata Power -- the Union Power Secretary, R.V. Shahi, today declared that the situation "continued to be in a mess''.

These harsh remarks against the private discoms were made by Mr. Shahi -- who was personally instrumental in the privatisation efforts in Delhi last year -- at a daylong workshop on "The New Electricity Bill: Impact and Opportunity'' organised by Powerline here.

Referring to media reports that Delhi was selling power, which it had in excess, to other States in the region, Mr. Shahi, recounting his personal experience, said: "For the past two days, I am experiencing load-shedding for one to two hours during night. This clearly reflects that even in a city like Delhi power distribution system is in a mess.'' Incidentally, he resides in the New Delhi Municipal Council area where the power distribution system is still in the hands of the civic body.

Quietly listening to such critical remarks were some of the top officials of Delhi Transco and the Delhi Power Secretary, Jagdish Sagar, who has been in charge of the city's power sector for the past several years now and responsible for this mess which the new private discoms are finding it tough to clean.

For observers of the Capital's power sector, the remarks of Mr. Shahi have not come as a surprise as he had been publicly expressing his disappointment over the performance of the private discoms at various fora in the recent past.

``Availability of power is not an issue here (Delhi). Before the onset of summer, we had very comprehensive discussion on this issue. We had worked out and ensured an availability of 3,800 MW against an expected summer demand of 3,600. Still we are having power cuts. What do we do, if we do not supply power properly'' he asked.

Mr. Shahi said the same was the case with the power situation in the country's North-East and Eastern region where electricity was in excess but was not available to the people due to an inadequate distribution infrastructure. Even today 65 per cent of the Indian population does not have access to power five decades after Independence. He hoped that the Electricity Bill 2003, which was passed by both Houses of Parliament and is awaiting Presidential nod for it to become an Act, would open up the sector and solve the problems in the years to come.

As a follow-up to the Bill, Mr. Shahi said the Union Power Ministry would, in the next six months, bring up about half-a-dozen policies including National Electricity Policy and National Electricity Tariff Policy.

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