Sheila hits back at Khurana

NEW DELHI SEPT. 6. Striking back at the Delhi Bharatiya Janata Party president, Madan Lal Khurana, for making "baseless and motivated allegations", the Delhi Chief Minister, Sheila Dikshit, today announced that she was willing to withhold the release of funds to the power discoms and write to the Union Power Ministry in this regard. But at the same time she warned that any hampering of developmental work due to this move would be the responsibility of Mr. Khurana who had indulged in this tirade against her.

``I could even write to the Union Power Ministry asking them to ensure that the Central funds for discoms should be released through Mr. Khurana if he desires so. I can even go to the extent of asking the Central Government to directly release the funds to the discoms in order to eliminate our role and prove the fact that allegations levelled by Mr. Khurana are baseless and indicative of his increasing frustration. But if there is any delay in maintaining and providing new facilities by the discoms, the entire responsibility would be that of Mr. Khurana and the people of Delhi should bear with me for this. I suggest that the people of Delhi vote for Mr. Khurana to bring back the harsh memories and set up the Delhi Vidyut Board,'' Ms. Dikshit said in a statement here.

Charging Mr. Khurana with repeatedly raising issues about privatisation of power process in the Capital and making allegations without backing them with facts, Ms. Dikshit said she had time and again made it clear that the Central Vigilance Commission had gone out of the way to examine the process and give a go ahead. Under the transfer scheme, the distribution companies have been guaranteed 16 per cent return on equity. This is not an exceptional return at all. Under the Electricity (Supply) Act, 1948, the return prescribed is 16 per cent on the capital base.

The amount of Rs. 105 crores was kept at the disposal of the Delhi Government for disbursal from March 2002 and the amount has yet not been disbursed. The Union Power Ministry has been reminding the Delhi Government to release the APDRP fund. However, there was an error in the sanctioned order issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, which was the main cause for the delay. There was nothing dubious and clandestine about the clause in the agreement in which Delhi Government agreed to facilitate APDRP assistance for the discoms. This was requested by the investors at the time of negotiation and in principle agreed to by the Government. After that, it was the Union Government that actually released the funds.

Ms. Dikshit said the investment by the three distribution companies were being monitored by the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission and the latest order on power tariff was issued by DERC only after taking into account the investment that has been made by the discoms. To say that they have not invested anything is far from truth. The DERC order shows investment of Rs. 181.25 crores by all the three discoms from July 2002 to March 2003 and further Rs. 1,046.21 crores for the year 2003-04.

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